'Staggering' number of long-term opioid painkiller patients dying from overdose, study says

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'Staggering' number of long-term opioid painkiller patients dying from overdose, study says

Post by Ben Reilly on Thu Aug 27, 2015 2:45 am

Pretty scary stuff -- I've taken opioids for back pain, and had to cut myself off because I could tell I was starting to like them too much.

More than one in 10 people prescribed an opioid painkiller will remain on the drug for months and a significant number will die from an overdose, new Canadian research reveals.

One in 350 men and one in 850 women taking opioids chronically, or for three months or longer, will die as a result of the medication, according to the study, published on Thursday in the journal PLoS One.

The figures, notably for men, are “staggering,” according to David Juurlink, a senior scientist at Toronto’s Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and lead author of the study.

“While one in 350 might not sound particularly high, remember that tens of millions of patients take these drugs and we’re talking about death,” Dr. Juurlink said in an e-mail. “From a public health perspective, this is a very big deal.”

The study found that of all those prescribed opioids, more than 11 per cent were still taking the medication at least three months later. Among chronic users, one in 45 men and one in 70 women were eventually prescribed very high doses that are associated with a significantly increased risk of addiction and death.

It is unclear why men face much higher risks than women, but researchers say the findings highlight a need to better monitor men for dependence, addiction and death.

“I think the message for doctors is pretty clear: Think long and hard before starting a patient on long-term opioid therapy and try to avoid escalating to high doses,” Dr. Juurlink said. “There are no data to suggest this represents good medical practice and you expose your patients to enormous risk if you do so.”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/staggering-number-of-chronic-opioid-patients-dying-according-to-new-study/article26036969/

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Re: 'Staggering' number of long-term opioid painkiller patients dying from overdose, study says

Post by Raggamuffin on Thu Aug 27, 2015 11:11 am

There's not really enough info in the article. It doesn't say if the people who died took more than the recommended dose or not, or what exactly they died of.

Prescription pain killers come with warnings. The warnings are all over the leaflet which is included. Some people don't read them though, and they take pills like they're sweets.

Doctors should speak to their patients if they prescribe these painkillers, and make it clear that they should be used sensibly. There's no point taking them at the drop of a hat just because they're there, they should be used if nothing else helps, and should only be taken if the pain is very bad.

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Re: 'Staggering' number of long-term opioid painkiller patients dying from overdose, study says

Post by eddie on Thu Aug 27, 2015 7:19 pm

I'd never take a medication for a long time.
Even when I was on carbimizole for my Graves Disease, I weaned myself down long before my consultant told me to - and came off at the same time I should have too.

Long-term tablets, especially painkillers, are a massive no-no. They do more harm than good.

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Re: 'Staggering' number of long-term opioid painkiller patients dying from overdose, study says

Post by Raggamuffin on Thu Aug 27, 2015 7:47 pm

eddie wrote:I'd never take a medication for a long time.
Even when I was on carbimizole for my Graves Disease, I weaned myself down long before my consultant told me to - and came off at the same time I should have too.

Long-term tablets, especially painkillers, are a massive no-no. They do more harm than good.

It depends on why someone's taking medication. If a condition is only under control as long as the medication is taken, it's not a good idea to stop. It's good to take the minimum which works though.

Some drugs are not effective if they're stopped and then started again - like some of the biologics.

What will you do if your condition starts again?

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Re: 'Staggering' number of long-term opioid painkiller patients dying from overdose, study says

Post by eddie on Thu Aug 27, 2015 8:08 pm

Hi rags, I'm not too sure really?
I've been told that surgery is my only viable option but I don't accept that.
I may try diets or natural remedies before taking the decision to have my thyroid removed.

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Re: 'Staggering' number of long-term opioid painkiller patients dying from overdose, study says

Post by Raggamuffin on Thu Aug 27, 2015 8:10 pm

eddie wrote:Hi rags, I'm not too sure really?
I've been told that surgery is my only viable option but I don't accept that.
I may try diets or natural remedies before taking the decision to have my thyroid removed.

Would you know just from the symptoms, or do you need blood tests to check if it's all working OK?

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Re: 'Staggering' number of long-term opioid painkiller patients dying from overdose, study says

Post by Tommy Monk on Thu Aug 27, 2015 9:28 pm

Probably down to alcohol mix... with men more likely to be drinking and drinking more...



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Re: 'Staggering' number of long-term opioid painkiller patients dying from overdose, study says

Post by eddie on Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:10 am

Raggamuffin wrote:
eddie wrote:Hi rags, I'm not too sure really?
I've been told that surgery is my only viable option but I don't accept that.
I may try diets or natural remedies before taking the decision to have my thyroid removed.

Would you know just from the symptoms, or do you need blood tests to check if it's all working OK?

Both. I'd get symptoms then a blood test to confirm if my thyroid was overactive.
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