Opioid misuse is rampant in the U.S. In fact, estimates suggest that approximately 700,000 hospitalizations that are related to misuse of an opioid occur every year.
The findings of a recent study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Truven Health Analytics suggest that health care workers aren’t doing everything they can to prevent future misuse, which might save lives.
The Opioid Problem
Millions of people misuse painkillers and other opioids every day. The hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations that occur as a result of this misuse represent opportunities for healthcare workers to stage an intervention, prescribe other drugs that would help users break the opioid habit and connect users with treatment programs. Unfortunately, the SAMHSA study found that healthcare workers rarely capitalize on these opportunities.
Substance Use Disorder Medication
The study looked specifically at whether or not opioid users who had been hospitalized filled a prescription for a substance use disorder medication within 30 days of their release. Only one in five or 16.7 percent of study participants received and filled such a prescription. This is only part of the problem.
Nearly one quarter of the study’s participants actually received an opioid prescription within 30 days of their release from the hospital. Another 13.9 percent of participants obtained a prescription for benzodiazepines while another 7.4 percent obtained both opioids and benzodiazepines. Typically, benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium are prescribed for the symptoms of panic attacks and anxiety. When coupled with an opioid, they are extremely dangerous.
The study’s authors suggest that health care workers should be more proactive about guiding people who misuse opioids into a treatment program while they are in the hospital. Prescribing a substance use disorder medication and staging a brief intervention can also go a long way toward improving outcomes and saving lives that would otherwise be ravaged by opioid misuse.
Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse & Misuse in Kansas City
ARCpoint Labs of Independence, MO provides prescription drug testing and monitoring services for individuals and medical professionals. To learn more about our services related to opioid prescriptions, call (816) 379-3197.