Researchers from the George Washington University School of Medicine recently found that the the number of emergency room visits resulting in a prescription for painkiller rose nearly 50 percent between 2001 and 2010. This has been one of the many contributing factors to the overall rise in prescription drug abuse throughout the country.
Published in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine, the results showed that the total number of such ER visits went from 21 percent up to 31 percent during the decade. Part of those statistics include the increase of Schedule II narcotics that nearly doubled, from 7.6% to 14.5%.
Despite these hefty increases, the percentage of patients reporting for painful conditions only increased by a modest 4%. Part of the reason for the sharp rise in narcotic painkillers was believed to involve a concern for greater patient satisfaction, indicating that fulfilling their wishes may have taken a front seat to doing what’s best for their conditions in some cases.
Dr. Ryan Stanton, spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), told HealthDay that, “In many cases, naproxen, Tylenol (acetaminophen) and ibuprofen are the best choices.”
Unfortunately these statistics are a reflection of the overall scene when it comes to trying to treat pain, keep patients satisfied and find quick fixes when dealing with a large volume of patients. Hopefully more treatments can be used that aren’t as potentially addictive, yet still provide relief to those who are in need. Either way, our country must continue to find ways to cut back our overwhelming dependency on painkillers.
The National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS) is a routinely updated gathering of information on various types of addiction treatment and rehabilitation programs throughout the country. It represents a snapshot of the field on a single day, rather than a compilation of a year’s worth of statistics.
One of the categories that it surveys includes Opioid Treatment Programs, which provide medication-assisted therapy to treat opiate addictions. The replacement drugs given in these programs are usually either methadone or buprenorphine. On March 31, 2011 there were over 268,000 people taking methadone and 3,300 taking buprenorpine (which doesn’t include those taking the drug prescribed from other treatment facilities or primary care physicians).
Aside from the sheer number of people taking methadone each day, and equally alarming statistic for some is the amount of the drug they are taking per day. The survey showed that 18 percent of methadone patients are taking 120 milligrams or more, compared to only 10 percent of them taking 40 milligrams or less.
Methadone itself is an opioid agonist that has a high level of toxicity. Many users say that withdrawing from methadone is much more difficult than coming down from heroin or other opiates. This, as well as building up a tolerance, is one of the reasons why so many methadone users continue to increase their dosage amounts. The scariest part is that according to the CDC, methadone accounts for more than 5,000 overdose deaths each year.
At Desert Cove Recovery, we strive to help people become completely free from opiates. If you have a loved one dependent on drugs such as heroin or prescription painkillers, contact us today to compare our rehabilitation center with your other options before choosing any kind of opioid replacement therapy maintenance program.