We have an epidemic on our hands in the US.
Misuse and unmoral desires have lead pharmaceuticals companies and the medical field to create a situation where 115 people in the US are dying everyday from opioid overdose.
There are many solutions to this problem. And many of them should be implemented. Including a greater focus on preventive care and conservative treatment (i.e. Physical Therapy). But I digress...
One easy solution is to limit the duration of use. This will significantly decrease the risk of becoming addicted.
One study showed:
- 1 day supply = 6% chance of becoming addicted
- 5 day supply = 10% chance of becoming addicted
- 10 day supply = 20% chance of becoming addicted (1 in 5)
- 30 day supply = 45% chance of becoming addicted
"The largest incremental increases in the probability of continued opioid pain reliever use were observed when the first prescription supply exceeded 10 or 30 days (Figure 1)"
So just limiting the amount of time we take opioids can be a simple and effective solution to preventing societal damage and death.
What about the pain? There are many other approaches to reducing pain (did I mention Physical Therapy...)
Take Home Message
"Prescribing <7 days (ideally ≤3 days) of medication when initiating opioids could mitigate the chances of unintentional chronic use. When initiating opioids, caution should be exercised when prescribing >1 week of opioids or when authorizing a refill or a second opioid prescription because these actions approximately double the chances of use 1 year later."
No one ever plans on getting addicted. No one plans on losing control to a chemical reaction. But it is obviously happening at a scary rate.
Everyone can help. Be responsible. Talk about it to others in your social circle. Help educate the community.
Advocate less opioids for a shorter duration. It's a simple and easy solution.