More Americans use and abuse prescription opioids despite increased awareness related to the dangers of the medical and nonmedical use of prescription opioids, according to the Truven Health Analytics PULSE Healthcare Survey-NPR Health Poll.
The January 2017 poll found a steady upward trend in the number of Americans prescribed opioid painkillers such as morphine, OxyContin, Percocet, or Vicodin since 2011 — from 49.7 percent in 2011, 54.1 percent in 2014, to 57.1 percent in 2016.
The poll found that there was an overall decrease in concern among those with a prescription for opioids between 2011 and 2016, while there was a substantial increase in worry among those who had not been prescribed an opioid medication between 2011 and 2014.
Respondents were primarily concerned with developing an addiction and experiencing negative side effects followed by fear of the long-term impacts, the potential for drug abuse, and effectiveness of the drug.
Guidelines and standards, such as the Prevention Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, urge opioids to only be used to treat patients with chronic pain due to active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care. The poll, however, identified that 73.7 percent of Americans were prescribed opioid painkillers for temporary acute pain, in 2016. Only 18.9 percent of Americans were prescribed opioid painkillers for chronic pain, 5.5 percent for other conditions, and 2 percent for cancer.
The goal of acute and chronic pain treatment is to maximize functional level while providing pain relief with the minimum effective dose. The development of more effective pain management can help improve the quality of life, positively affect medical outcomes, and reduce health-care costs, overall harm, and death associated with substance use, abuse and dependency.
Ineffective prescribing practices, therapy, follow-up care, and resources have many negative consequences. Over 2.5 million Americans suffered from an opioid-related substance use disorder in 2014, resulting in more than 28,000 — approximately 70 percent — overdose deaths in the U.S. By 2014, overdoses were… (continue reading)