Opioids May Be Over Prescribed by Non Specialists

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An opioid is a substance that may be over-prescribed by non-specialists. One such form of the drug is opiates, which are derived from opium, these drugs are highly controlled substances. This drug is used to release endorphins into the central nervous system to relieve pain. The opioid is one of the two drugs that are called narcotics, the other is cocaine. The substance is also found in Papaver somniferum, or poppies. Two common opioids are oxycodone and methadone. Brand names often over prescribed include Percodan, OxyContin, Vicodin, and Demerol.

These can cause several different side effects, such as itchiness, nausea, and respiratory depression. The user can become totally dependent on it, which is why they may face heavy withdrawal symptoms once he or she suddenly stops using the drug. If the drug is mixed with depressants it could cause an accidental overdose, which may be fatal. Many often start to consume depressants because the drug causes respiratory depression.

The drug is largely used as a pain reliever, it is also used as an anesthesia. It can be used to treat ailments like a cough, or to treat other addictions. However, a narcotic such as, methadone can also reverse an overdose caused by the substance itself. Some of the strongest types of this narcotic are only used to treat large mammals and are strictly used by veterinarians.

Different cultures have been using the drugs for religious or recreational purposes since ancient times. They are considered to be the one of the world’s oldest drugs. However, it was not until the 19th Century that morphine was created from the drug and the hypodermic needle would be introduced. Since the 20th Century, there has been a greater awareness of the drug being trafficked across international borders. Many doctors, who are non-specialists, may be over-prescribing opioids.

Dove Medical Press conducted the KnowPain-50 survey claiming that despite the fact that most of the narcotics in the United States are written by non-specialists, “these providers often report inadequate training in chronic pain management and opioid prescribing.” The survey continued to state it is unknown how much the prescriber knows about the drugs. The purpose of the survey was to determine if the medical providers were prescribing the narcotic appropriately for their patients.

The survey was a part of a study that included 131 participants. They disguised the study as a conference for members in the medical field who did not specialize in pain management. Once the study was over, the participants had completed a survey of 50 questions. 18 of the questions focused on the non-specialists treatment of their patients with the narcotics and 32 questions focused on pain specialists. The questions were categorized into two categories, one category was medicolegal and the other category was clinical.

Most of the participants were males in their early 50s. The questions regarding none-opioid matters were 74 percent correct, and the opioid questions were 69 percent correct. The answers to the medicolegal questions were answered 74 percent correct, and the clinical questions were answered 67 percent correct.

At the conclusion of the survey, it stated how the knowledge of pain relievers among many members in the medical field is inconsistent. Additionally, it continued to stress how more education in prescribing narcotics to patients could help teach non-pain providers on such matters.

News Medical claims, “Overprescribing of opioids and opioid addiction are serious and growing public health problems in the U.S.” Daily Messenger also states, “In the Rochester-Finger Lakes region deaths increased by more than 550 percent from 9 in 2004 to 59 in 2013.” It continues to declare that they are related to opioid overdoses in the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region, which is stated by New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH). The data states how the 2013 statistic is 550 percent more than the 2004 figure and opioids may be over-prescribed by non-specialists.

By John Federico
Edited by Cathy Milne and Jeanette Smith


Dove Medical Press: Opioids for chronic pain: a knowledge assessment of non-paying specialty providers
News Medical: Overprescribing of opioids leads to serious public health problems
Daily Messenger: Opioid-related deaths increase by more than 550 percent in Rochester/Finger Lakes region

Featured Image Courtesy of Avard Woolaver’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License