BYU Students Have New Device to Fight Drug Addiction

This is the all-too-familiar story of drug addiction and Dr. Terry Sellers. It’s familiar because we have heard this story before, just with different characters and settings. But the plot is still the same.

Terry Sellers was a respected obstetrician who spent his nights delivering babies. He began to suffer from migraine headaches and was initially given a shot of Demerol for one.

“I remember thinking to myself, this feels awesome. I could feel like this the rest of my life and I would be just fine. I just remember my migraine going away,” he said.

What started as a small sample of a potentially addictive drug turned into full blown drug addiction and abuse for Dr. Sellers.

“Eventually that developed into me calling in prescriptions, me calling them in using another doctor’s name and DEA number,” Sellers admits.

Craig Povey of the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health says that he sees this all the time. People using prescription drugs don’t consider themselves junkies or addicts. They would never consider using street drugs. But they can do whatever they want with prescriptions because they are, well, prescriptions.

Engineering students at Brigham Young University-Provo have created a device that could stop patients from unwittingly succumbing to prescription drug addiction well as protect curious youngsters and teens from experimenting with these medications. The electronic pill dispenser that gives out medications goes home with the patient. The device will only give out the medication after a password is typed in and only at the times the doctor has prescribed.

Sellers says that type device could have helped him when he went through his addictions.

“If you give me a foolproof device where it delivers to me one pill every 4 hours exactly as the doctor says, then I’ll get the pain relief without the risk of me taking the whole bottle at once.”

While we are unconvinced that such a tool will prevent addiction, it certainly could be a useful tool for those who are receiving pain killers under a doctor’s supervision and should be considered for wider use.

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