The prescription of painkillers with opioids carries great dangers. Patients have the risk of becoming addicted to these drugs. Researchers have now found that many of the opioid-receiving patients still use the painkiller even after one year.
Researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about a quarter of people who are prescribed opioid pain medication for a period of twelve days are still taking these drugs a year later. The physicians published a press release on the results of their study.
Researchers Analyze Data from Nearly 1.3 Million Patients
The experts investigated the data of nearly 1.3 million patients without a cancer. In the period from 2006 to 2015, the participants had used painkillers with opioids for the first time. These include, for example, vicodin and oxycontin. As a result, the researchers wanted to determine the proportion of users of opioids taking the drugs in the long term.
All users use the opioids one year later
The results of the study clearly showed that about a quarter of the subjects taking opioid painkillers for only twelve days used the drug a year later. Almost half of the participants who took opioids for a period of one month used the drug a year later, the scientists say.
Already one-day intake with a search effect?
In addition, the physicians were able to establish that about six percent of patients with a one-day supply of opioids also took the drug a year later. The percentage doubled when the patients had to take the drug over a period of six days. The value doubled again to 24 percent, when the patients the medication for twelve days had been prescribed, the experts explain.
Many people die from overdoses of opioids
The study appears at a time when many people in America are dying by overdosing prescription opioids. In 2015, almost 15,000 people had died from overdoses and the number has quadrupled since 1999, the researchers say.
Abuse of drugs can have harmful consequences
The current study was focused on the prescription patterns. Therefore, the physicians could not determine when patients develop patterns that match an addiction. Experts distinguish between patients who are physically dependent on opioids as a result of illness, and people who have developed a complete addiction. In the latter case, the persons concerned no longer use medicines for medical purposes only and take the resulting harmful consequences into account.
Physicians need to be aware of the dangers
Doctors should be aware of the fact that the first days of taking such painkillers decide whether a long-term use will cease if the prescription of drugs with opioids ceases. Thus, a second series of painkillers with opioids could double the probability that patients will still use the drug a year later, warn the scientists.(as)