Exploring opioid deaths in chronic pain patients

Research has found that over half of patients who died from an opioid overdose had been diagnosed with chronic pain and many had psychiatric disorders. The study was conducted by researchers at Columbia University. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the number of opioid-related deaths has quadrupled in recent years, from 8,048 in 1999, to 33,091 in 2015, and the researchers were interested in learning more about what lead those patients to take opioids. The researchers analyzed clinical diagnoses and filled medication prescriptions for 13,089 adults in the Medicaid program who died of an opioid overdose from data collected between 2001 and 2007. During the last year of life, more than half of these adults (61.5%) had been diagnosed with chronic pain and many had also been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. This included 59.3% who were diagnosed with … Read more

Opioid pain relievers to reduce overdose risk

Researchers at the The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in Florida have developed opioid pain relievers that do not slow or stop breathing which is the cause of overdose. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 91 Americans die every day from opioid overdoses when opiates like heroin, oxycontin, and fentanyl slow and later stop a person’s breathing. The research shows that a range of compounds can deliver pain-blocking potency without affecting respiration. The study builds on two decades of research, where the researchres have long explored whether the painkilling pathway, the G protein pathway, could be unlinked from the breathing suppression pathway, the beta-arrestin pathway. The researchers had their doubts about being able to separate out the pathways and also wanted to know how much separation was needed to see analgesia without respiratory suppression. For the study, the researchers worked to develop … Read more

How to Avoid Opioid Addiction When You’re Prescribed Pain Medication

Have you been prescribed pain medication, but worry that you might become addicted to it? This fear is common, and it’s also valid. Some pain medications can alter your brain in a way that doesn’t just keep the pain away, but can leave your body craving more than you once needed to have the same effect. Long-term use of pain medication, especially, can cause an addiction. Here’s what you need to know to avoid becoming addicted to your pain medication. What Pain Medications are Addictive? From drugs to help prevent migraines to prescriptions for menstrual pain, there is a medication for just about any type of pain you can have, from mild to severe. Some pose a rare chance of an addiction, whereas others can have more serious consequences. Unfortunately, virtually any medication carries a risk of causing an addiction … Read more

What Can a Surgeon Do to Prevent Opioid Abuse

An interesting article titled “The Surgeon’s Roles in Stemming the Prescription Opioid Abuse Epidemic” written by James Hupp appears in the 2016 Journal of Oral and Maxilofacial Surgery (vol. 74, pp. 1291-1293). The article describes the current challenges oral and maxilofacial surgeons are facing when it comes to prescribing opioids. This is because regulators and politicians are getting involved due to their perception of an opioid abuse problem. He mentions that Congress is considering legislation to address prescription drug addiction problems. The author wants surgeons to remember that there are legitimate reasons for giving patients who have had oral surgery such as wisdom tooth extractions an opioid medication.  Pain that interferes with a patient’s usual routines, their ability to consume enough fluids and calories, or their ability to sleep often requires a narcotic until the pain subsidizes. As such these patients should be prescribed opioids … Read more

Painkiller Overdose in Michigan: Are Wisdom Teeth Extractions Contributing?

Before on this blog I have talked about how oral surgeons prescribe powerful painkillers for use after wisdom teeth removal. It is possible some of these painkillers are instead used for non-medical use. See the posts http://blog.teethremoval.com/comparing-narcotic-prescribing-habits-for-oral-surgeons-in-the-u-s-and-canada/ and http://blog.teethremoval.com/do-oral-surgeons-prescribe-too-many-narcotics-for-use-after-wisdom-teeth-removal/. An interesting article titled “Synder officials take on painkiller overdose ‘epidemic’” located at  http://www.detroitnews.com/story/life/wellness/2015/10/12/prescriptions/73798342/ and written by Gary Heinlein and Joel Kurth, discusses a surge in overdose deaths in Michigan linked to the abuse of pain and anxiety medications (Oct. 12, 2015). One of the cases describe how a man’s addiction to painkillers was aided by a 30-day prescription for Vicodin after his wisdom teeth extraction. The article states “The state’s health department has said overdose deaths linked to opioids were increasing at a faster rate than for illegal drugs such as heroin — also on the rise — and cocaine. A state report also noted that … Read more