We are all aware of the effects of opioid addiction and how it is crippling cities across America. But it’s interesting to point out that not many stories cover its sources, as in what leads people to start using in the first place. TheFix.com recently published a very insightful article on where these dependencies come from.
One of the surprising findings was that surgeries aren’t the main culprit for people getting hooked on opioids. Stats from The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reveal that chronic pain is the leading cause for the spikes in prescriptions.
According to JAMA, only 1.1 percent of people who use opioids for six months or more first received them after a surgery (or any inpatient encounter, for that matter). On the flip side, more than 3o percent of the people they surveyed formed their habits because of “ill-defined conditions” aka chronic pain.
What’s worse, is that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims opioids don’t even work properly for chronic pain sufferers.
“There is insufficient evidence that opioids control chronic pain effectively over the long term,” CDC researchers wrote in their report. “And there is evidence that other treatments can be effective with less harm.”
Very interesting and surprising data. So much so, that it is now getting widely reported. Outlets like The Los Angeles Times have begun digging into the prescription histories of abusers and put a piece out highlighting this study’s importance.
“The initial event associated with exposure to prescription opioids has not been widely explored, but is often maintained to stem from an injury or surgical procedure,” Times writer Meredith Healy wrote. “As we search for causes of the opioid epidemic, we note that hospital events and associated procedures do not appear to be the main drivers.”
Perhaps the silver lining in these alarming facts is that hospitals and doctors may be forced to take notice. The CDC felt so strongly in their findings that they are releasing new guidelines for treating chronic pain. They are now specifically warning doctors to lower the dosages of their opioid prescriptions and explore alternate meds for patients with this issue.
The guidelines went on to say, “Improving the way opioids are prescribed through clinical practice guidelines can ensure patients have access to safer, more effective chronic pain treatment while reducing the number of people who misuse, abuse, or overdose from these drugs.”
Though it may be a small step, it is certainly a step in the right direction when it comes to combating this crisis. And we wholeheartedly support any research that can trace the roots of this deadly addiction.