The metamorphosis of prescription painkillers from “wonder drug” to a cause of opioid epidemic has compelled federal agencies and many researchers to examine the groups particularly prone to addiction. A recent study by a group of researchers from the QuintilesIMS Institute suggested that in 2016, women in the age group of 40-59 years were prescribed more opioids after surgery than any other group.
In the study, titled “United States For Non-Dependence: An Analysis of the Impact of Opioid Overprescribing in America,” the researchers stressed on how despite several measures taken by multiple federal agencies, roughly nine out of 10 patients were still prescribed pain pills after surgery. Researchers and authorities continue to warn people about the dependence and addiction problems associated with over prescription of opioids, but doctors often find it difficult to desist from prescribing these medications to their patients suffering from chronic pain.
Patricia Rehmer, a senior vice president with Hartford Healthcare Network, said, “It’s very difficult when somebody says they are in pain, post-op or if they have an injury. I think prescribers are reluctant to challenge people on that until they see a pattern and at that point it could be too late.”
The research, funded by Pacira Pharmaceuticals Inc., analyzed prescription details from 600 private hospitals and nearly 78,000 patients based on factors like age, gender and demographic features. The researchers observed how patients, aged 40-59 years, were more likely to be operated upon. They explained how people of this age group were more prone to be afflicted with cancer and when maximum number of women undergo hysterectomies. Rehmer said it is difficult to turn down suffering women who request for extra pain medicines.
An analysis of the data revealed that women aged 40-59 years received maximum opioid prescriptions overall, nearly double that of men in the age group. They had a 40 percent greater likelihood to become consistent users of pain relieving drugs. As per the data, Alabama recorded the highest opioid prescription rate – 72 pills per capita – compared to the lowest of 23 pills per person in the District of Columbia.
The fact that over prescription of opioids increases the chance of stacking unused pills at home, further aggravates the risk of misuse. Careless handling of unused medicines at home can increase the chance of their misuse and abuse by teenagers and other young members of the family. In addition, people dependent on heroin can consume pain relievers to experience effects similar to that of the drug.
An increase in the number of deaths attributed to opioid misuse and overdose has led many U.S. states to stake stern measures to combat the opioid epidemic. In September 2017, Florida Governor Rick Scott announced a detailed plan to curb the state’s opioid and heroin epidemic. Details of the proposed legislation included points like limiting prescription of opioids to three days and, in extreme cases, seven days. In addition to this, Florida doctors will have to utilize the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program at the time of writing prescriptions for painkillers.
Abuse of opioids and heroin is a major health concern for the nation. Keeping in mind the myriad reasons responsible for the rising addiction problems, federal agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) keep issuing guidelines regarding prescription of medicines for chronic pain. They conduct various drug-monitoring programs for physicians so that they could dispense pain medicines more responsibly.
The impact of drug abuse on a woman and her family is often far more serious than on a man. However, a dedicated addiction treatment center can be more helpful for woman patients compared to the general ones. Sovereign Health, a leading national addiction treatment and mental health service provider, operates one of the best drug rehab facilities for women in Arizona. We provide individualized and comprehensive treatment at our dedicated women drug rehab Sovereign Health of Arizona. For more information on our evidence-based treatment programs, call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with our counselors.