According to a recent study conducted by pharmacists at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the risk of opioid addiction is doubled in patients that receive prescriptions for long term opioids. The study looked at medical records from 1.3 million people that were prescribed opioid pain killers such as oxycotin, vicadin, and morphine for the first time over a decade, spanning from 2006 to 2015. Patients prescribed these narcotic pain medications for seven days were twice as likely to continue using the narcotics as patients with a two-day prescription.
The study also revealed that patients treated for chronic pain were more likely to become addicted to opioids than those who were prescribed the narcotics following surgery. The patients with chronic pain were 25 percent more likely to continue using the drugs than those with short term pain. The type of opioid and the strength of the prescription did not seem to have a significant effect on the number of patients likely to continue the medication.
Researchers suggested that doctors may be more effective at controlling long term opioid usage by prescribing the narcotic in the lowest possible dosage for the least amount of time. Effective pain relief is important, but treating the pain at its most intense period and then switching to a non-narcotic pain reliever may help reduce the likelihood of addiction.
Opioid addiction is an epidemic in the United States. Over prescribing narcotics like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine has led to countless people becoming dependent on pain medications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 33,000 people passed from opioid overdose in 2015 alone. The problem is so widespread that law enforcement and emergency medical personnel routinely carry Narcan, which is a medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
Pharmaceutical companies misrepresented the addictive properties of opioids to doctors, who began prescribing them as a first line pain medication. Conditions previously treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy started to be treated with narcotic pain medications. This led many teenagers and young adults into addiction. As more people became addicted to the narcotics, the rate of overdoses dramatically increased.
Researchers with the University of Arkansas study suggest doctors return to non-narcotic pain relievers as soon as possible following surgery and injury. Short-term prescriptions for opioids may help curb the opioid epidemic in the U.S. and reduce the number of overdoses in the country.
New Jersey Product Liability Lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow McElroy, LLP Represent Victims of Doctors Who Overprescribe Dangerous DrugsIf you or someone you know has been injured from a prescription opioid drug, the New Jersey product liability lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow & McElroy, LLP will fight to ensure that your legal rights are protected and the maximum amount of compensation is claimed. Call us at 732-777-0100, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our offices are conveniently located in Red Bank, Edison, and Toms River, New Jersey, and we serve clients throughout the state.