1.5 million people dependent on medication

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Associations warn of drug abuse and drug interactions

Drug addiction in Germany is still largely ignored by health circles, politics and authorities. According to the “Yearbook Addiction 2011”, around 1.5 million people are dependent on medicines. According to the evaluations of the yearbook initiators of sleeping pills, most of those affected are addicted. Most patients ignore the associated health risks from continued medication use.

Over 1.5 million people in Germany are dependent on medicines. This does not include the steadily increasing misuse of alleged remedies for fear, stress, overweight or pain. Many also use medication to improve performance or to lighten the mood. The majority of consumers hardly worry about side effects and ignore potential health risks. Most seem to be simply ignorant of the dangers.

16 million Germans use glowing sticks every day, 2.5 million are cannabis users, around 1.1 million people are dependent on sleep medicine and another 400,000 people are dependent on other medications such as sedatives, stimulants or other means. This was determined by the "Yearbook Addiction 2011" and relies on official information, among other things. from the Federal Ministry of Health. An initiative from various associations has been set up to raise the issue of public awareness. The German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), the ADAC automobile club and the Federal Association of German Pharmacists' Associations (ABDA) will be there. The aim is to present drug abuse in all its effects and facets so that countermeasures can be taken. Because regular drug use can have serious health effects.

Medicines and road traffic
A significant and also often overlooked danger is the effects of medication and driving a vehicle. Medicines for colds that already seem harmless can have dangerous consequences in road traffic. Some active substances trigger a decrease in the ability to react and the relative risk of accidents increases. According to the experts, every fourth road accident is related to taking medication.

Professor Dr. Frank Mußhoff from the University of Bonn (Institute of Forensic Medicine) explained that, for example, he became aware of a case after a patient was given a low dose of methadone for back pain by a doctor. A little later, the patient received another medication for calming and relaxing muscles in a hospital. Shortly after taking the drug, the man caused a traffic accident as a driver. In this context, the medical doctor warns of the sometimes unpredictable drug interactions. Doctors must therefore inform patients better and more thoroughly before administration. "Out of 400 road users who showed a driving style typical of alcohol without alcohol, 360 were under the influence of medication."

Pharmacies can refuse to dispense medication
In the Federal Republic, pharmacies are legally obliged to counter misuse of medication. Already when selling over-the-counter products, consumers have to be informed about possible side effects and / or interactions and warned. If drug abuse is suspected, pharmacists can refuse to purchase the drug from the customer. However, this only applies if the product is sold without a doctor's prescription. As Ursula Sellberg from the Pharmacists Association said, prescription medicines must be discussed with the treating doctor if suspected. Then it is decided whether the remedy will still be spent. To what extent these requirements are implemented in practice, there are precise key figures. A major problem for pharmacists is recognizing abusive intentions. The person concerned can also simply go to the nearest pharmacy and try "their luck" there.

High-performance medicines are increasing significantly
According to the Federal Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds, about every 20th employee takes medication to improve performance. Expressed in numbers, around 800,000 employees, schoolchildren or students would resort to performance enhancers. Many hope for improved concentration and increased performance. According to the Rhineland municipal accident insurance association, about seven percent of all accidents at work are caused by such “happy pills”. For comparison: around 13 percent of accidents at work are committed under the influence of alcohol.

Aids in recreational sports
Not only in professional competitive sports but also in leisure sports, more and more people are taking pills to achieve higher sports goals. According to some experts, around one million people in Germany would use doping drugs or other high-performance medicines. However, DOSB Vice President Grassroots Sports / Sports Development, Walter Schneeloch, warned against viewing the problem as a "sports problem". Rather, people from all walks of life and target groups are affected. The symposium is therefore intended to promote comprehensive information. What good is health-promoting sport when active ingredients pose an acute threat to consumer health? (sb)

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Photo credit: Rainer Sturm / pixelio.de

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