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Study: Initial opioid prescription patterns and the risk of ongoing use and adverse outcomes

opioid pain medication

This is a very large study with 2,021,371 participants. It looked at patients who were prescribed an opioid for pain and examined how many people continued to take them long-term (what they defined as ‘addiction’) (3.17%) and how many experienced an opioid overdose (0.055%).

It’s clear that persistent use, which they have used to define “addiction” is rare at 3.17%. I think it’s important to point out that ‘persistent use’ is a very poor way to define ‘addiction’. Persistent use implies only that the patient is finding benefit. It is far more likely that the patient is finding realise from their chronic pain, not that the patient is addicted.

As for overdose, this study shows that opioid overdose is a vanishingly rare event in pain patients at 0.055%. Yet the media continues to scream ‘opioid crisis’.

The risk of overdose and addiction is vastly inflated and prescribing opioids for chronic pain is safe and effective for persistent pain, and only rarely leads to adverse events such as addiction and/or overdose.

From the study: “Among the 2,021,371 individuals meeting our inclusion criteria, 1121 (or 0.055%) experienced an opioid overdose within 1 year and 64,013 (3.17%) continued treatment for at least 1 year. “

Published March 2021

Author: PsychosomaticAddict

Chronic Pain Patient Advocate. Pain Coach. Patient. Living with High Impact Chronic Pain and advocating for proper pain treatment, including opioids where appropriate. Busting the myths. Exposing the actual science.

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