Many continue to receive opioid prescriptions after overdose

12/30/2015 04:00 |

Many continue to receive opioid prescriptions after overdose

America's deadliest drug problem grew even deadlier previous year, as overdose deaths from opioids hit a record 28,647, or 78 people a day.

Nine in 10 people who overdose on prescription opioids continue to receive prescriptions after the overdose, according to a new study published by Annals of Internal Medicine.

Unfortunately, findings showed that 91 percent of the patients were still prescribed opioids after the overdose.

Stunningly, around 70% of them had been able to turn to painkillers again after being prescribed these drugs by the very same physicians who recommended them in the first place.

Then, 2 years later, patients who continued taking high dosages of opioids were twice as likely to have another overdose, compared with those who stopped using opioids after the overdose.

Insurance companies could alert doctors with medical records to overdoses, catching cases in emergency rooms they would otherwise miss, the study suggested. Their prescription painkillers included morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl.

Just this week, Brown University's medical school and Rhode Island Hospital were awarded $916,851 and $788,403 respectively to integrate extensive training in substance abuse screening and intervention into the curriculum to help future doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and social workers better address opioid addiction and overdose. Besides that, people who misused their prescription drugs are less likely to report the overdose to their prescribing doctors, fearing that they won't get prescriptions any longer. "As a provider, this is troublesome because this is information that I need access to in order to best treat my patient".

In addition, even if the doctor does know, he or she must weigh the benefits of continuing to have an opioid prescription - sudden withdrawal from opioids can actually be fatal in many cases - versus the risk of prescribing a pill that the patient has already OD'ed on.

The average age of these patients was 44, and 60 percent of them were women. Also, doctors may be reluctant to draw down medication if patients insist it is the only thing that manages their pain and helps them get out of bed in the morning and tend to their families.

In other news NewsOK reported, the United States has an overdose problem, particularly related to prescription painkillers, and so the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is taking steps meant to try to curb it.

There were 212 second overdoses, 7% of the original group.

Dr. Scott Krakower is assistant unit chief of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y. He said that "narcotic painkillers can be highly addictive and patients may seek them out despite overdose, thus ignoring risks with these agents".

The bill also provides $12 million in funding for residential drug treatment programs, $13 million for prescription drug monitoring and $42 million for drug courts and the CDC's state-based anti-drug program. A brush with death simply isn't enough to stop most addicts from using, though.

The retrospective cohort study involved more than 2,800 commercially insured patients aged 18-64 years who had a nonfatal opioid overdose during long-term opioid therapy for noncancer pain between 2000 and 2012.

The study was funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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