Opiophobia- Fear medical doctors experience of prescribing needed pain medications for patients

Pain medications are needed by some patients who visits a doctor’s clinic. But there are some doctors who fear prescribing pain medications and this fear is called opiophobia. The word opiophobia is derived from the word ‘opium’ or ‘opiate’ and is a narcotic that is mostly regulated by the drug agencies. These are highly addictive drugs and a lot of patients may get hooked to the effects of these drugs.

Doctors may fear giving pain medications because of a bad experience such as having a patient who became addicted and demanded more pain meds from the doctor even if the doctor thinks that he or she no longer needs them. This drug-seeking behavior of patients to the point of maybe even threatening or harassing the doctor can cause this phobia.

One can also have this fear because of a personal experience of being addicted to these drugs. They fear prescribing these medications for they might again be tempted to prescribe for themselves and get addicted again.

This fear can be limiting to the practice of a physician because one might be also scared of prescribing non-narcotic pain medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin, which are over-the-counter pain medications. They may show symptoms of anxiety when confronted by a patient asking for pain medications and in extreme cases might decide not to practice anymore.

Treatment includes psychotherapy. These doctor’s usually respond to cognitive and behavioral therapy.