STATES CHRONICLE – A research study performed in the United States in 2015 in regards to usage and storage of painkillers has revealed that all is not right in the world of medical opioids.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription opioids-induced deaths have tripled between 1999 and 2014. The primary cause for this exponential increase is suspected to be the overprescribing of painkillers.
Opioids are often prescribed to patients when they are discharged from hospitals. Painkillers are a constant risk of addiction. A majority of heroin users have started out as opioid addicts.
A study in regards to personal opioid use, painkiller storage habits, and the sharing of medication was performed in 2015. The study surveyed 1,055 consenting adults who had received prescriptions for OxyContin or Vicodin in the previous year.
Even though an average time of six months had passed since their initial painkiller prescription, approximately 47 percent were still taking medical opioid at the time of the survey.
Nearly 60 percent of the surveyed subjects stated that they expected to have excess or leftover medication. In order to avoid the risk of addiction, excess opioids should be discarded. A minimal percentage of individuals actually did this.
Researchers established that close to 30 percent of survey subjects were given instructions on how to store and discard their medication from their doctors. 45 percent of the surveyed were made aware of such instructions from drug packaging or pharmacists.
Less than 10 percent of patients stored their prescription opioids in a securely locked location, during and after usage. Approximately 20 percent of patients said they kept their medicine in a “latched” location.
8 percent of study subjects shared their prescription painkillers with friends who were in need, 14 percent shared with relatives.
A staggering 45 percent gave their excess or leftover prescription opioids to people who they knew of having issues with managing pain, instead of discarding them.
A similar but different study which gathered data from 600,000 Medicare recipients revealed that close to 15 percent of all hospital patients are given an opioid prescription at discharge. Out of these 90,000 patients, close to 43 percent were using painkillers three months after their discharge.
The results of the study reveal that there is a clear issue in overprescribing pharmaceutical opioids but that also health care professionals must also make greater efforts in promoting the usage, storage, and disposal of painkillers.
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