It’s a fact: Pain killers are overused in the U.S., and a major problem is Americans’ long-term use of opioid drugs. This is covered in a report: A Nation in Pain: Focusing on U.S. Opioid Trends for Treatment of Short-Term and Longer-Term Pain.
The study reviewed 36 million claims from 6.8 million insured Americans from 2009 thur 2013. The patients were compared for short-term use (30 days or less in a one-year period) vs. long-term use (more than 30 days during a one-year period). These patients were assessed for the number of prescriptions filled, the number of days per prescription and the dosage being prescribed.
Among the study’s findings:
– There was a 9.2 percent decrease in the number of people getting pain killers but there was an 8.4 percent increase in the number of prescriptions and number of days being used.
– Of those using opioids for more than 30 days, 50 percent were continuing usage for over three years.
– Seniors are using opioid pain killers the most, but the biggest increase in usage occurred with adults between 20 and 44 years of age.
– Women are 30 percent more likely than men to take opioid medications, but men are more likely to fill more prescriptions and at higher dosages.
– The highest concentration of opioid users is in the Southeast U.S.
– Around 60 percent of these patients were taking multiple medications, and the most common additional medication was anti-anxiety drugs.
The problem is, pain killers are highly addictive. They might provide temporary relief but never correct the problem. The side effects are numerous: nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, headaches, increased risk of infections, osteoporosis, cataracts, constipation, weight gain, sleep problems, loss of sexual desire or ability, rash, liver damage, heartburn, ulcers, kidney problems, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, addiction and the list goes on and on.
If you are in pain, why not try a natural, drug-free option first — chiropractic. Call our office at 425-778-9600 for a consultation.
— Dr. Waldron