Opioid Addictions After Surgery

Some patients face much higher risk of becoming dependent on powerful painkillers

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(HealthDay News) — Some surgery patients prescribed opioids for postoperative
pain may face a high risk for developing a long-term opioid addiction,
new research warns.

The analysis tracked a half-year of opioid use among more than 36,000 surgery
patients. None had taken opioids before their surgical procedure.

We found that 5 to 6 percent of patients not using opioids prior to surgery
continued to fill prescriptions for opioids long after what would be considered
normal surgical recovery,” said study author Dr. Chad Brummett, director of the
division of pain research at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Moreover, the rates of new chronic use did not differ between patients having
major and minor surgeries, suggesting that patients continue to use these pain
medications for something other than simply pain from surgery,” he added.

The risk was highest among smokers; patients who had struggled with alcohol
and/or drugs in the past; those previously diagnosed with depression or anxiety;
and those with a history of chronic pain, the findings showed.

In many cases, the pain control drug of choice is an opioid medication such as
Vicodin or Oxycontin. The U.S is in the grip of an opioid painkiller epidemic, with
more than 10 million people using prescription opioids for non-medical reasons in
2014, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

One recent study showed that opioid dependence can take hold in as little as
five days.

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