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Posted on November 8th, 2017

Tailoring the amount of prescribed opioid pills to avoid misuse of leftovers

Tailoring the amount of prescribed opioid pills to avoid misuse of leftovers

Numerous statistics have established prescription opioids as a driving factor behind the increasing number of opioid overdose deaths since 1999. Along with the rise in opioids overdose deaths, there has been spike in the sales of prescription opioids concurrently.

According to data released by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), the number of prescriptions written for opioids were 259 million in 2012— enough to provide every American adult his or her own bottle of pills. Undoubtedly, the ongoing opioid crisis is the result of a faulty practice of prescribing painkillers for any kind of pain.

Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has highlighted that opioid prescription increased four times between 1999 and 2015. In the same period, over 183,000 people died due to opioid overdose. Drug overdose has emerged as the leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States, with more than 15,000 people succumbing to prescription opioid overdose in 2015 alone.

Ways to manage unused painkillers

The practice of over-prescription is a much talked about topic in the debates surrounding America’s opioid crisis. It has become a worrying factor by leading to an increased amount of leftover (unused) opioid pills.

According to a study conducted by the researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and published in the journal JAMA Surgery, most patients don’t consume all the pills prescribed to them.

Some of the major reasons behind the non-consumption of prescribed opioids varied from side effects, such as nausea, vomiting and constipation (between 16 and 29 percent of patients) to adequate control of pain without medications. However, what happens to those leftover pills is another story.

The researchers screened 2,419 studies, sourced from Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials. These contained the details of oversupply of opioids to patients after the surgery of skin, lungs, shoulder, hands, cesarean sections and dental work. They were able to identify only six studies (a combined total enrollment of 810 patients) that met all eligibility criteria. Out of these, the researchers found that between 67 and 92 percent patients had leftover opioid pills after their surgery. Overall, it was estimated that between 42 and 71 percent of prescribed pills went unused among the 810 patients.

While two studies revealed that between 73 and 77 percent of patients had not stored their opioids in locked containers, five studies highlighted that less than a third of the patients had or intended to dispose of the unused pills. Moreover, around 4 to 9 percent of patients had considered using or had used a disposal method as recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Implementing safe measures to store and dispose of unused opioids

The above findings elucidate the importance of personalizing pain treatment, as the one-size-fits-all approach inflicts unfavorable outcomes, such as abuse and misuse of leftover pills.

Here, we discuss some of the effective ways to keep such leftover medicines from children and youngsters to avoid accidental exposure to opioid:

·         Safe storage: All opioids should be stored in their original packaging to avoid mix up with other medicines. Moreover, it should be stored in a locked cabinet, where a responsible member of the family holds the key and others cannot easily access them. The person who is on pain medication should carefully note the quantity of medicine used to keep track of the amount of leftovers. If someone else appears to have taken the pills, the police should be alerted immediately.

·         Safe disposal: One can access the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Office of Diversion Control to get information on the medicine take-back programs and the local waste management company. Opioids in both pill and patch forms are packaged with instructions for flushing the unused medicine down the toilet to prevent unintentional or illegal use. The FDA even recommends flushing down used and leftover pain patches as they contain some amount of medicine that could be deadly to pets, children and others with a low tolerance level for opioids. Patches need to be folded in half with sticky sides facing each other and then disposed.

Recovery roadmap

Addiction is a malady and the only way to address it is through treatment intervention. If you know someone addicted to substances like alcohol or drugs, it is important to undergo detox to remove harmful chemicals from the body and preparing it for recovery. You can contact the NTR/NAD Detox of Arizona to find the state-of-the-art detoxification treatment centers in Arizona. Chat online or call our 24/7 helpline number (866) 593-8453 to get information on drug detox treatment centers in Arizona.