Heavy Opioid Abusers Often Have Prescriptions, Shows Study


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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today highlighted new research showing that Doctors themselves often supply patients at risk for opioid overdose.

The new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, shows that the patients who use opioids (for recreation) 200 or more days out of every year often get their drugs through a prescription. According to the CDC, around 27% of this group have prescriptions for opioids. This is in contrast to the majority of people who abuse prescription opioids, who most often get their drugs freely through friends and family.

The CDC suggests that these findings call for more prescription drug abuse prevention programs, specifically ones that target doctors and their prescribing behaviors.

“Many abusers of opioid pain relievers are going directly to doctors for their drugs,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC. “Health care providers need to screen for abuse risk and prescribe judiciously by checking past records in state prescription drug monitoring programs. It’s time we stop the source and treat the troubled.”

In the U.S. current prescription drug abuse prevention efforts are largely educational, with drug manufacturers required to provide addiction risk educational programs and researchers following overdose trends to learn what they can about drug abuse in the country. The CDC suggests that comprehensive opioid prescription monitoring programs are needed to help identify those at risk for overdose. Also, the agency suggest that pain clinic laws and a crackdown on improper prescribing by doctors could go a long way to preventing opioid addiction or overdose.