There’s a new wrinkle to the opioid crisis, and its roots originate right at home.
When a team is prescribed opioids after a medical occurrence such as minor surgery or an accident, the odds for long-term abuse nearly doubles if there’s another member of the household struggling with an opioid addiction. Those are the findings of a new study of more than 300,000 people whose median age is 17.
The odds of anyone from that age group developing an opioid addiction after minor surgery sits at 2.4 percent. However, post-operative addiction rates climb to 4.1 percent with another long-term user in the same residence.
Researchers at the University of Michigan came up with that determination.
“Physicians should screen young patients for long-term opioid use in their families” prior to prescribing an opiate painkiller, the study notes. The study also added “a family history of substance use is a potent risk factor for opioid misuse in relatives,” adding that for teens, “permissive family norms and exposure to substance use among parents and siblings” are also strongly tied to drug abuse in adolescents.
JAMA Surgery published those findings in February 2019.
A listing of common prescription opioids
It’s possible some of the high-powered and addictive medications that could be prescribed in a post-op setting include Hydrocodone (Vicodin) and Oxycodone (OxyContin or Percocet).
When used as specifically prescribed, prescription opioids can offer much-needed relief, giving the body an opportunity to heal. However, issues begin when the opioids are used improperly.
How does this occur?
- Taking the medication in a manner or dose not prescribed.
- Taking the medicine in improper doses to get high.
Medications can be taken whole, in its normal form. However, people using opioids can also crush their medication or open the capsule, dissolving the power into water and injecting it into a vein. The powdery form can also be snorted for effect. Obviously, these last examples are never prescribed means of taking it.
How the study determined family opioid risks
The U-M study assessed approximately 346,000 patients between the ages of 13 and 21 (thus, creating the average age of 17). Nearly three-quarters filled their prescription for an opioid. Short-term usage (generally, the amount of a standard prescription course of 30 days or less) was compared with continued usage of generally four months or longer.
This concept is not surprising, as Columbia University researched also released nearly identical findings. In the journal Pediatrics, teens whose parents abused opioids were 30 percent more likely to do that, compared to teens coming from households were opioid abuse didn’t take place.
One physician commented on the best way of preventing this from occurring – namely, prescribing non-opioids for pain management following a host of procedures.
“It’s essential that surgeons strongly consider and advocate for nonopioids when prescribing pain medications after surgical and dental procedures in adolescents and young adults,” said Dr. Robert Glatter from Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. He noted that NSAIDs like ibuprofen, for example, may do as well as, if not better than, opioids without creating a risky scenario.
He added that when it comes to opioid prescriptions, especially for young people, “It’s vital that medical providers inquire not only about a family history of substance abuse, but about family members with long-term opioid use.”