Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Study Discusses Opioid Addiction Epidemic and Patient Behavior

Annie Burton, MD completed her anesthesiology residency and is currently undergoing her interventional pain management fellowship at the University of Minnesota. Besides anesthesiology, Annie Burton, MD is interested in addiction medicine, especially as it intersects with the prescription opioid addiction epidemic in the United States.

Prescription opioid overdose deaths in the Untied States have seen a threefold increase over the past two decades, and has reached epidemic proportions. In fact, the state of affairs is so dire that the Obama Administration has taken official action in an attempt to end the epidemic.

Meanwhile, researchers continue to investigate the origins of this problem. For instance, a study published in the June 13, 2016, edition of JAMA Internal Medicine documents patient behaviors that exacerbate opioid dependency. The study relies on data from a survey of 4,836 representative individuals, 1,055 of which had used opioid medications within the past year. Of those 1,055, nearly 98 percent completed the survey.

Findings indicate that 20 percent of people prescribed opioid medications end up sharing the medications with others. More than 60 percent of respondents reported that they save excess drugs to use later, despite 50 percent of them admitting that they did not understand how to properly store such medications.

The study’s authors suggest that when prescribing opioids, doctors ought to prescribe less. Moreover, they suggest that patients be educated on proper opioid storage and disposal practices.

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