Modern medicine has been used to cure countless of ailments. However, at times the cure can be worse than a disease. Several opioid treatments have already begun a public health crisis, but a recent study by the CDC may have just discovered how to solve this global epidemic.
- An opioid is a substance that has the ability to bind to parts of our nervous and gastrointestinal systems.
- Opioids can numb pain as well as create a euphoric feeling.
- Beginning late 1990s, medical professionals in the US prescribe opioids for patients suffering from chronic pain.
- Pharmaceutical companies have also developed stronger types of opioids.
Since opioids are like heroin in chemical makeup, opioid products can greatly lead to dependence. It has been discovered in long-term users that opioids can develop a tolerance which means that users would need to use more of the substance so they can get the same effect from the first use and be satisfied. As a result, opioid users take in more opioids often in unsafe amounts which raise the risk of getting an overdose. When the prescription runs out, opioid users often make a switch to heroin because it provides the same effect at a lower cost.
In recent decades, the uses of opioid and heroin have dramatically grown.
Each day, around 3,900 Americans start to use opioids without a medical purpose and around 580 opt to begin with heroin. These staggering statistics have led to around 30,000 deaths with $55 billion spent in social and health costs annually in the U.S. alone.
The U.S. health authorities are struggling in their campaign against the fatal trend. While there are those that recommend completely phasing out opioids to savor safer alternatives, medical professionals can still moderate this epidemic by altering how they prescribe painkillers. A study by the CDC was recently made exploring how prescription practices can affect the possibility of an addiction. Using this study, physicians can better prescribe opioids and reduce the risk of addiction.
Researchers used records obtained from the IMS Lifelink database and sampled 10% of patients treated from 2006-2015. The researchers then narrowed down the records to patients who are opioid-naive and those who have never previously used opioids as well as those who used a minimum of one day’s supply of the substance.
A sample of 1,294,247 patients was produced. Records revealed detailed info about patients’ background, details of treatment, and length of opioid use post-treatment. The overall probability of addiction was very low with 6% of those who received an opioid prescription for a day continued opioid use after a year. 13.5% of those who got treatment for over a week continued opioid use after one year and 29.9% of those who treated over a month continued opioid use after 1 year.
Aside from the length of treatment, addiction was directly influenced by the size of the first dose. Those who got a dose of 400-799 mg of morphine equivalent were three times likely to be chronic users than patients who got less than 120 mg dose. Those who got two refills of prescription were 2.3x likely to be addicted than those with only one. Moreover, Tramadol leads to addiction more than any other opioid product.
Doctors who prescribe opioids should only prescribe a minimum dose for the shortest time possible in order to be effective. The risks of addiction can greatly be reduced while alternatives are not available.