A recent study shows that people who abuse prescription opioids infrequently, or who are just starting out using the painkillers are more likely to overdose than those who have more long-term prescriptions or who are prescribed higher doses.
The results from this study are important because they highlight the fact that many of these overdoses could be avoided with better patient education and better prescribing practices. Of the overdoses reviewed in this study, more than a third involved methadone, which is used for treating an opiate addiction and also prescribed for chronic pain.
Additional factors that increased the risk of overdose in patients included whether or not someone was also taking a sedative, which accounted for about half of the total episodes. This echoes the notion that poly-drug use can have serious interactions and unfortunately, many patients aren’t making their doctors aware of all the medications they are taking or the doctors are too liberal with their prescriptions.
“It may be prudent to revise guidelines to also address opioid poisonings occurring at relatively low prescribed doses and with acute and intermittent opioid use, in addition to chronic, high-dose use,” explained Deborah Fulton-Kehoe, lead author and researcher at the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Washington School of Public Health in Seattle.
We are in the midst of a serious opiate crisis in the United States. Thousands of lives are being lost each year due to these prescription painkillers, and thousands more from people starting with pharmaceuticals and then quickly ‘graduating’ to heroin because of the serious addictive potential of the drugs. Users can go from legitimate low-dose prescriptions and escalate to shooting heroin sometimes within weeks.
In order to make more progress in preventing overdoses and stopping people from becoming addicted, there are many forms of interventions that must take place along the way on individual and societal levels. If you have a loved one already abusing opiates, call Family First Intervention today to find out what can be done to end that destructive behavior.