Opioid Over-Prescription a Growing Concern
According to Medscape, when PhD Steven Passik started looking into opioid abuse, he found some startling issues. His concerns of over-prescription of opioids, now shared by other healthcare professionals, are worthy of consideration.
In the U.S, opioid abuse is one of the leading forms of addiction that many people struggle with on a daily basis.
Opioids Dangerous for Certain Users
Dr. Passik suffered a shoulder injury and was shocked when his own doctor prescribed him opioids after his surgery without asking him a single question about his medical history.
Opioids are a strong narcotic and often described as similar to morphine. They are a potentially addictive substance and some are at greater risk than others.
People who have a history of drug or alcohol abuse are at a much greater risk of developing an opioid addiction. There are other important risk factors such as mental illness, family history of addiction, and whether the patient is a smoker. However, doctors are not commonly asking these questions before dolling out prescriptions of strong narcotics.
Root of the Over-Prescription Problem
Perhaps, doctors feel the responsible course of action to take for patients in post-operative pain is to alleviate their patients’ pain as much as possible, and stronger drugs are the easiest way to accomplish pain management.
The problem arises when a patient is on such strong pain management medications for an extended period of time, as many patients are on opioids for months after a surgery. People who are at higher risk of addiction may fall prey to opioid addiction completely by accident.
Doctors are not being advised against writing prescriptions for opioids for pain management. There are simply questions and risk assessment factors that need to be considered prior to ensure the patient’s recovery from an injury is not creating a new problem for the patient.
Dr. Passik suggests that in addition to risk factor assessments, doctors should prescribe abuse-deterrent opioids whenever possible and drug test patients for safe levels of the opioid in their system to ensure they are not abusing the drug.
Healthcare professionals are being encouraged to take a strong role in opioid abuse prevention and treatment. Prescription drug abuse, especially opioids, has become a serious problem with dire consequences for users.
Drug Abuse Facts
Information provided by Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
- Drug overdose was the leading cause of death in 2011. It caused more deaths than car accidents.
- In 2011, 80% of drug overdoses were unintentional.
- In that same year, 55% of drug overdoses were caused by prescription medications.
- Out of 22,810 overdose deaths, 74% of those were related to opioids abuse.