U.S. Opioid Painkiller Abuse Could Be Leveling Off

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By Amy Norton

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 23, 2017 (HealthDay Information) — The variety of People abusing prescription painkillers has leveled off in recent times, however there is no such thing as a obvious decline but.

That is the discovering of a brand new examine monitoring the U.S. opioid abuse drawback. Researchers discovered that after a big spike within the early 2000s, People’ misuse of prescription opioid painkillers has plateaued in recent times.

Nonetheless, the difficulty is not going away: By 2014, the newest survey yr, near 14 p.c of U.S. adults and youngsters had ever abused the medicine — which embody Vicodin (hydrocodone), OxyContin (oxycodone) and morphine.

The findings underscore the significance of giving sufferers other ways to handle ache, mentioned lead researcher Dr. Asokumar Buvanendran, vice chair of anesthesiology at Rush College Medical Middle in Chicago.

There are occasions when folks want short-term ache reduction with opioids.

However for many long-term ache (unrelated to most cancers), opioids are usually no higher than a placebo, Buvanendran mentioned.

And the dangers of opioids — together with habit and overdose — are well-known.

A current authorities examine discovered that People’ dying fee from opioid overdoses greater than tripled between 2000 and 2015. That included deaths from prescription painkillers and heroin.

Many consultants blame unfastened prescribing practices for getting folks hooked on painkillers. Varied medical organizations have come out with pointers aimed toward reining in opioid prescriptions.

The U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention says the first-line remedies for power ache needs to be nonopioid medicines and nondrug choices, similar to bodily remedy and cognitive behavioral remedy.

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And when opioids are prescribed short-term, sufferers ought to solely be given a number of days’ price of tablets, on the lowest dose, the CDC says.

However it takes time for pointers to be put into apply and present results in the actual world, Buvanendran mentioned.

“I haven’t got a crystal ball,” he mentioned. However, he added, the plateau in People’ prescription opioid abuse would possibly flip right into a decline within the subsequent few years.

Buvanendran was scheduled to current the findings Sunday on the annual assembly of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, in Boston.


One other examine introduced on the assembly steered that progress is being made in opioid prescribing. Taking a look at greater than 1 million sufferers who had hip or knee replacements, researchers discovered that 1 in four got opioids alone after surgical procedure in 2006.

By 2014, just one in 12 acquired simply an opioid painkiller. As a substitute, extra sufferers have been getting extra ache remedies similar to anti-inflammatories and nerve block injections — and decrease opioid doses.

Buvanendran’s findings come from a authorities survey carried out between 2000 and 2014.

From 2000 to 2002, there was a pointy rise within the variety of People who’d ever abused prescription opioids — from lower than 9 p.c, to greater than 13 p.c.

That determine held pretty regular over subsequent years, standing at 13.6 p.c in 2014.

What’s wanted to get that quantity down?

For one, individuals who have already got an opioid drawback want therapy, mentioned Alexandra Duncan. She is a senior officer with the substance use prevention and therapy initiative on the nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts.

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“Treatment-assisted therapy” is taken into account best for opioid dependence, Duncan mentioned. Meaning counseling together with any of three permitted medicine: buprenorphine, methadone or naltrexone.

The medicines work by blocking the results of opioids or by easing withdrawal signs.

But many individuals with opioid dependence haven’t got entry to the medicines, in line with Pew. Research present that solely a minority of private and non-private drug-abuse therapy packages supply the medicines, for instance.

Ample funding for opioid therapy needs to be a precedence, Duncan mentioned.

Then there’s the difficulty of stigma, she added. “We have to be sure that folks really feel snug looking for assist,” Duncan mentioned.

As for stopping opioid abuse, she mentioned, a method is thru state-run prescription drug monitoring packages.

The packages electronically monitor prescriptions for managed substances, and medical doctors can examine them earlier than prescribing opioids. That may assist catch “physician consumers” — individuals who go from one supplier to the following, looking for a brand new opioid prescription.

In keeping with Buvanendran, sufferers can do their half by disposing of unused prescriptions correctly. Additional tablets left sitting round will be misused by another person.


However do not merely drop the tablets within the rubbish, he mentioned. The most secure route is to return the medicine to the pharmacy, if attainable, or to a drug “take-back” program at an area police station.

Information and conclusions introduced at conferences are often thought-about preliminary till revealed in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

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