Prescription drug abuse rates are rapidly increasing in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the U.S. makes up only 5 percent of the world’s population, yet it is responsible for the consumption of 75 percent of the world’s prescription drugs. Abuse of prescription drugs occurs who the drug is taken in a manner other than its intended purpose such as to get high.
Prescription drug abuse can take over someone's life if help isn't found. It doesn’t have to be this way though. For those who are struggling with prescription drug abuse and addiction, help is only a phone call away.
An average middle-aged patient who is getting ready for a surgery or is seeking help for pain from a primary care physician might be oblivious to the dangers of opioid abuse. However, a study — “United States for Non-Dependence” — by researchers from The QuintilesIMS Institute and funded by Pacira Pharmaceuticals, Inc., revealed that middle-aged patients are prescribed maximum opioids. It found the trend particularly higher in the middle-aged women, nearly double the prescription than the middle-aged men.
As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), although drug overdose death rate increased for all age groups between 1999 and 2015, middle-aged adults aged 45-54 had the highest death rate from drug overdoses in 2015. Another highlight of the report was that among the middle-aged patients, women had the maximum dependence on opioids and highest overdose death rate. The report analyzed data from 600 private hospitals involving more than 78,000 patients.
Despite the country’s massive efforts to tackle the opioid epidemic, the study found that after surgery, nine out of every 10 patients received opioids to manage post-operative pain, averaging 85 pills per patient. Prescribing such large amount of opioids not only exposes the patients to developing dependence, but it also immensely increases the scope of misuse and diversion by others around them. In 2016, post-surgery opioid overprescribing resulted in the exposure of 3.3 billion unused pills to diversion and misuse in neighboring communities.
Women aged between 40 and 59 receive more opioids than any other age group, which is double the opioid prescriptions middle-aged men receive. The cause of concern is that this segment of population is also highly prone to developing dependence and addiction, with about 13 percent of them becoming new persistent opioid users. These women continue to use opioids even three to six months after surgery. That’s the reason, opioid-related death rate is quite high in this age group. The researchers believe that the reason behind this higher predisposition of women towards opioid dependence could be due to differences in body fat, metabolism, and hormones.
The study also found that close to 3 million patients who underwent surgeries in 2016 became continued opioid users. Colectomy (a surgery that removes part of the colon) and knee replacement surgery, are two procedures among seven studied in this analysis, that put patients at risk of developing persistent opioid use with 17.6 percent and 16.7 percent of the patients, respectively. Knee replacement surgery and women aged 35-44 are a dangerous proposition as the presence of these two factors simultaneously in a female patient increases their risk for persistent opioid use by 22.8 percent post-surgery.
The researchers found that 88 percent of opioid prescriptions in 2016 were for immediate-release (IR) opioids since restrictions on extended-release (ER) opioids have dramatically reduced the prescribing of those formulations. There are hardly any abuse-deterrent properties or any safeguards to prevent misuse of IR opioids and they are now the most frequent cause of opioid dependence and addiction.
The opioid epidemic calls for a multi-pronged approach to contain it. Most importantly, a multimodal approach to managing post-operative pain is the need of the hour that utilizes a combination of non-opioid medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen and local anesthetics as well as nondrug approaches such as physiotherapy or acupuncture for improved patient outcomes.
If you or a loved one is battling prescription drug addiction, it is imperative to seek professional help. The Colorado Prescription Abuse Helpline assists in accessing the best prescription drug abuse treatment centers in Colorado that specialize in delivering evidence-based intervention plans. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-922-5915 or chat online with our experts to know more about the prescription abuse treatment centers in Colorado.