Overdoses Don’t Stop Opioid Abuse

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Opioid abuse is quickly becoming an epidemic across the country, and especially in Oklahoma where prescription drug overdoses occur frighteningly frequently. Efforts have been increased to reduce the abuse of painkillers across both the state and nation, but a new study shows it is having little effect on perhaps the most vulnerable group of people.

A recent report published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine has found that nearly all patients with chronic pain who have experienced a prescription opioid overdose continue to receive their prescription afterwards and face a significantly higher risk for another overdose.

For the study, researchers from the American College of Physicians used a large national commercial insurance claims database with information collected from over 50 million patients over the course of 12 years. They specifically focused on approximately 3,000 patients who had experienced a nonfatal opioid overdose related to prescribed medications.

Accord to the findings of the analysis, 91 percent of patients continued to receive their prescription for opioids following their overdose.

Among these, 70 percent continued to receive their prescription from the same provider who prescribed the opioids involved in their initial overdose.

When the researchers followed up with participants two years later, they found those who continued taking high doses of opioids were twice as likely to experience another overdose compared to those who discontinued their opioid use following their initial overdose.

While overdose rates in Oklahoma have seen a slight decrease in the past year, these findings are deeply concerning. Both medical providers and legislators have made efforts to reform opioid prescription policies and regulations, but it is clear more needs to be done.

If you think you or someone you know may be struggling with opioid or other substance abuse issues, give us a call at (888) 298-4673 and we can find the right treatment plan for you.

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