Some people who become addicted to opioid pain relievers begin taking the drugs after painful surgeries. Which surgeries increase patients’ addiction risk?
In 2016, doctors handed out so many pain pills prescriptions that 3.3 billion pills went unused. Research firm, QuintilesIMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, ties this factor to the current American opioid epidemic.
Some Surgeries Carry A Bigger Addiction Risk
Colectomy was the most dangerous risk with 18% of patients becoming long-term users, according to QuintilesIMS. Knee replacement patients came in second at 17% of patients who took the drugs. Hernia and hysterectomy surgeries showed to be lower-risk with about a 7% risk of misuse each. Women, overall, showed to be particularly vulnerable.
According to the report, almost three million Americans took opioids after surgery. Doctors prescribed pain meds to one in 10 post-operative patients for three to six months after their first dose post-surgery.
“The bigger the incision, the more painful something ought to be,” anesthesiologist Dr. Eric Sun told HuffPost. The colectomy is often an invasive surgery that removes part or all of the colon. He also said that “knee surgeries tend to be very painful,” and that “people complain about those.”
Refilling Script 10 Times Is A Warning Sign
A study published in Jama Internal Medicine defines chronic opioid users as:
Those who fill 10 or more prescriptions after a few months have passed since their surgeries.
Knee replacement and open gallbladder surgical patients had the highest risk for developing opioid addictions based on Jama’s research.
Who Is To Blame?
Some may blame doctors as the root cause of addiction through excessive prescription-writing, but post-op pain is real and doctors are required by law to compassionately treat their patients for their pain.
“There’s a lot of other things you can give that can help, but at the end of the day, if someone is in a lot of pain, opioids are part of the mainstay,” Sun said.
“That’s sort of the next phase in all this research,” he said. “We know there’s a problem. The question is: What do you do about it? How do you keep these people from transitioning to long-term use?”
Content Originally Published By: Ariel Scotti @ New York Daily News
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Pam is the author of Co-dependent In The Kitchen, and she's a contributing editor for Recovery Guidance. She's a recovery advocate who likes long walks on the beach and chocolate.