Mayo Clinic researchers recently studied the percentage of patients who received an opioid pain medication for the very first time who went on to long term prescriptions, abuse of the medications, or addiction. The answer was an astonishing 25%, or 1 in 4 patients. With opioid overdoses and painkiller addiction at an all time high across the USA and Canada this is a problem that needs a resolution. The Mayo Clinic study also showed that individuals who had a history of tobacco use and the use of other substances were those most likely to develop a painkiller addiction and to stay on opioid drugs long term. The goal of the researchers is to identify those who are most at risk early on, in the hopes that alternative treatments and closer monitoring and supervision of patients on these drugs will help prevent painkiller addiction and opioid overdoses.
Painkiller addiction is a serious problem, and there are many accidental opioid overdoses every day across America. Lead study author and Rochester Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist W. Michael Hooten, M.D. Stated “Many people will suggest it’s actually a national epidemic. More people now are experiencing fatal overdoses related to opioid use than compared to heroin and cocaine combined.” The researchers utilized the data from the Rochester Epidemiology Project, funded by the National Institutes of Health, in order to evaluate the data and determine the painkiller addiction and long term use rates for patients who received these drugs. A random sample of 293 patient details were used, and each patient had received a new script for opioid painkillers in 2009. 21% of the patients, 61 total, went from short term use to use that lasted 4 months or more, which is considered long term.