The United States is in an addiction epidemic. There are several contributing factors, but one reason is the increase in the prescription of pain relievers by doctors in the early 2000s. Although some of these prescribing trends have declined in the 2010s, recent information shows that some practitioners are still prescribing opioids when not needed.
The effectiveness, safety and sensitivity of opioid pain relievers has been discussed since the late 1990s. Research and experience suggest that to protect their patients, doctors need to be very careful, follow conservative prescribing guidelines, and consider non-opioid-related pain treatments.
New research shows that prescribing opioids after surgery is not always beneficial for the patient
Given the significant known risk factors associated with opioid pain relievers such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Morphine, Fentanyl, and others, there is an ongoing research effort to determine if and when these drugs are needed and how, if appropriate, they should be used.
On this point, a group of researchers recently published a report in the Annals of Surgery that revealed patients who Not Receiving a prescription for opioid pain medication after surgery are likely to have the same quality of life as those who do to do Receiving opioid pain relievers. This suggests that pain medication does not improve the quality of life for those who receive them after surgery. Given the risk factors associated with pain relievers, it may be better for doctors to encourage their patients to seek OTC (over-the-counter) non-opioid pain relief or holistic, non-drug pain therapy.
The study authors said: “Patients who were not prescribed opioids after surgery had similar clinical and patient-reported outcomes to those who were prescribed opioids. This suggests that minimizing opioids as part of routine post-operative care is unlikely to affect patients. “
“Opioids have been a routine part of post-operative pain management for decades, but the risk that they could lead to continued use is well documented.”
The study authors discussed the real need for doctors to be more conservative when prescribing opioids. According to Ryan Howard, MD, lead study author and resident surgeon at Michigan Medicine, “Opioids have been a routine part of post-operative pain management for decades, but the risk that they could lead to continued use is well documented. Maybe it’s time to make them the exception, not the rule. This study clearly shows no difference in pain, serious adverse events, or patient-centered outcomes when opioids are not prescribed. The growing evidence of the risks of opioid drugs to the patient and to others who may abuse leftover pills from the patient’s prescriptions must be considered along with evidence of their relative effectiveness in controlling pain. “
When opioid pain relievers are supposed to reduce the harm but pose an addiction risk, and when new research suggests no harm is done Not Shouldn’t doctors prescribe opioid pain relievers as a last resort for patients when prescribing them?
CDC Recommendations for Safe, Ethical Prescribing
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published recommendations for American doctors in a manner similar to the statement above. Opioid pain relievers should be considered last way out for pain relief, which a doctor will only do for the patient after other pain relief methods have been tried.
The CDC’s recommendation for doctors is replete with warnings such as “Opioids are not a first-line therapy” and “Discuss risks …” and “Use the lowest effective dose”. In one section of their article, CDC authors even say: “For chronic pain, non-pharmacological therapies and non-opioid pharmacological therapies are preferred. Physicians should only consider opioid therapy if the expected benefits to pain and function are expected to outweigh the risks to the patient. If opioids are used, they should be combined with non-pharmacological therapy and non-opioid pharmacological therapy as appropriate. ”In short, the CDC recommends that clinicians only use opioid pain relievers as a last resort. Even then, they should be used with other non-opioid treatment modalities.
And even if doctors to do When deciding to prescribe opioid pain relievers, the CDC strongly advises that doctors should reduce and stop opioid treatment quickly and seek alternative treatment if the potential benefits of pain relievers do not outweigh the very real harms of using them. According to the CDC document, “Physicians should evaluate the benefits and harms of continued therapy with patients every 3 months or more. If the benefits do not outweigh the disadvantages of continued opioid therapy, clinicians should optimize other therapies and work with patients to taper the opioids to lower doses or taper the opioids and stop them. “
It’s not just doctors in America who are discovering that opioid pain relievers do harm. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the very organization charged with protecting the health of Americans, has made clear the harm of opioid pain relievers and the need for doctors to be extra careful with them.
The link between prescribing pain relievers and the opioid epidemic
There is a long list of reasons why the CDC, and now many clinical experts, have issued cautionary statements against overprescribing pain medication. Perhaps the most serious reason is that pharmaceutical opioids played a critical role in the start and growth of the opioid epidemic. In the early 2000s, drug companies put pressure on doctors to increase prescriptions for opioid pain relievers, promising doctors it would not be harmful to patients.
It’s worth noting that not all doctors have prescribed too many opioid pain relievers for their patients. Many said no, others only increased their prescribing trends slightly. In 2019, a paper published in the BMJ showed: “In 2017, 49% of all opioid doses and 27% of all opioid prescriptions were made by the top 1% of providers. At least half of all providers in the top 1% in one year were also in the top 1% in the following years. “
To make matters worse, a 2019 report by ProPublica revealed that many of the same doctors responsible for prescribing massive opioids have received compensation from pharmaceutical companies.
Even though the vast majority of doctors are ethical, honest and follow CDC guidelines, there is no doubt that prescribing is unethical and excessive did contribute to the opioid epidemic.
Overdoses of pain relievers; The critical result of US reliance on pain medication
In 2017, the White House correctly stated that America’s opioid crisis was officially a national public health emergency. And, according to the CDC, an average of 38 Americans died each day from opioid pain medication overdoses through 2019, more than 14,000 deaths that year alone. To date, prescription opioids account for nearly a third of all opioid-related deaths.
It’s worth noting that a percentage of those who are addicted to pain medication are people who have Not Start taking such drugs during leisure time. That said, there are many Americans who started taking opioid pain relievers for legitimate reasons, such as recovery from surgery, but who then became dependent on the exact medication that was supposed to help them.
“In 2017, more than 191 million opioid prescriptions were issued to American patients – with big differences between states.”
According to the CDC, “more than 191 million opioid prescriptions were issued to American patients in 2017, with big differences between states.” That’s a frightening number. It is more than half of the total US population. It is a bad sign for the health of the American people when there is such pressure to prescribe drugs that are addicting, dangerous, and potentially fatal.
The risk of leftover medication; Another danger of overdose
The study authors first cited in this article (the ones who revealed this) Not Prescribing opioids will not harm patients after surgery) was also addressed about the harm that occurs when doctors do to do Prescribe pain medication. One such harm is the risk of unused prescription opioids lying around the house.
This risk factor deserves additional attention, and as it turns out, there is a slew of research that shows how dangerous it is for a patient to be prescribed pain medication and not use the medication. First of all, it happens all the time. According to a separate research group: “In the six studies, between two thirds (67%) to nine tenths (92%) of the patients reported unused opioids. Of the opioids obtained from surgical patients, 42 to 71% of all tablets remained unused. The majority of patients have either stopped taking opioids because of adequate pain control or have not used opioids. “
When millions of Americans are prescribed opioid pain relievers and these drugs are not This poses a hazard to family members, children, teenagers, friends, guests, neighbors, and community members when used. Opioid pain relievers are dangerous and can be fatal if misused. Again citing research, “Post-operative prescription opioids often go unused, unlocked, and not disposed of, suggesting an important reservoir of opioids that contributes to the non-medical use of these products.”
Treatment options are available for those dependent on pain medication
There are few ailments greater than becoming dependent on a drug to help reduce pain. Or a family member or loved one who gains access to their unused prescription pain relievers and suffers harm from it. Fortunately, there are treatment solutions for those struggling with addiction to all types of opioids.
If you or a loved one is dependent on opioids, please contact a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center as soon as possible. Please don’t wait until it’s too late. Addiction to opioids is a matter of life and death. Contact a drug and alcohol treatment center today.
Reviewed and edited by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC, CCS, LADC, RAS, MCAP, LCDC