The United States accommodates barely 5 percent of the world population, yet nearly 80 percent of the global opioid supply is consumed by the Americans alone. The prescription opioid epidemic has ripped apart innumerable families and communities in the U.S. and is now being looked upon as the biggest threat to the nation’s economy. Billions of dollars are being spent each year on educating Americans about the risks of opioid addiction and for providing treatment to millions of people suffering from it.
Lately, both federal and state governments have formulated a slew of guidelines and laws to combat the surging opioid use for pain management. Various agencies have also recommended replacing these drugs with alternative non-addictive medications.
Opioid use even for brief period can lead to addiction
A recent study, published online in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine in June 2016, aimed to understand the rates at which prescription opioids were handed over during hospital discharge and how they led to dependence on opioids later. To note the differences in prescription practices across various hospitals and to examine patient and hospital factors contributing to the prescriptions advised, the scientists accessed the data of Medicare beneficiaries who were hospitalized during 2011 without an opioid prescription 60 days prior to hospitalization.
In the study, titled “Hospital Prescribing of Opioids to Medicare Beneficiaries,” the scientists assessed 623,957 Medicare recipients. The results indicated that nearly 14.9 percent of hospital patients were handed over a new opioid prescription during discharge. Of these patients, an estimated 42.5 percent informed of taking opioids three months post discharge, suggesting that exposure to opioids even for a brief period of time can result in prolonged use or addiction.
The study revealed that prescription of opioids during discharge can be a potential risk for vulnerable patients succumbing to addiction as a result of long-term use.
Tackling opioid abuse
According to the report – titled “Increases in Drug and Opioid Overdose Deaths — United States, 2000-2014,” published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2016 – America witnessed a 137 percent increase in cases of drug overdoses, including 200 percent rise in deaths involving opioid overdoses. In 2014 alone, 28,647 Americans died of opioid overdoses, said the CDC.
CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said, “The increasing number of deaths from opioid overdose is alarming.” The opioid epidemic has long been haunting Americans’ lives. Patients continue to take opioids even after the pain has eased under the false assumption that prescription painkillers are relatively harmless since they are prescribed by certified medical practitioners. With doctors continuing to overprescribe painkillers, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended necessary safety training courses for doctors and physicians prescribing painkillers.
Various law enforcement agencies had brought forth necessary guidelines to curb over prescription of opioids by doctors, including a set of guidelines by the CDC to restrict and track down cases of opioid over prescription. As per the new set of guidelines, medical practitioners must prescribe opioids only when alternative medications or behavioral therapies have failed to impart the necessary impact.
Road to recovery
More Americans die of opioid overdoses than road accidents each year. The CDC has classified the opioid abuse as an epidemic while the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested that these drugs have threatened the achievements of modern medicine.
If you or your loved one is suffering from prescription drug abuse, it is imperative to seek immediate professional help. The Prescription Drug Addiction Helpline can help in finding one of the best prescription drug abuse treatment centers in America. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-623-3847 or chat online for the treatment options in your area.