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Study finds role of inflammatory bowel disease in spreading opioid epidemic

Study finds role of inflammatory bowel disease in spreading opioid epidemic

One of the major health crises that the United States is currently grappling with is the opioid addiction pandemic. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the opioid epidemic took more than 33,000 lives in 2015, a record high for any single year in the history of the country. Until now, the prevalence of opioid addiction was highest amongst the war veterans and people suffering from any chronic ailment or pain.

Experts say that the tendency to pop pills more frequently than suggested by doctors came from their need to alleviate pain and symptoms of their diseases. This, in turn, developed into addiction to painkillers. However, a recent study has identified an alarmingly high rate of chronic opioid use among patients suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Researchers from the University of Kentucky, who presented their study findings at the Crohn’s & Colitis Congress, said that the high use of prescription drugs by these patients increases the risk and makes them vulnerable to chronic opioid use. Earlier, researchers had identified a similar threat to people undergoing urologic surgery for conditions such as prostate cancer and kidney stones. As per the study, the risk of opioid dependency or overdose was higher in patients who were younger, underwent inpatient surgery, had a longer hospital stay or had a history of depression or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Determining the extent of opioid use with IBD patients

In order to identify the extent and impact of opioid use in IBD clinics, Bill Hacker, M.D., of the University of Kentucky reviewed the data of 740 IBD patients who were given one or more outpatient opioid prescriptions over 34 months. He and his team defined chronic opioid use (COU) as having at least 90 days’ worth of opioid medication during a six-month period without any 30-day gaps. The data was collected from Kentucky drug monitoring system.

According to their findings, 23.8 percent patients received opioids at least once, implying that “average opioid use was also higher than anticipated at 42.7 daily morphine equivalents.” They also discovered that 10.1 percent of all patients met the criteria for chronic opioid use and that they were significantly more likely to obtain opioids from four or more prescribers and pharmacies. “These patients also visited the ED (3.8 vs. 1.4, P = .0125) and had CT or MRI scans (4 vs. 1.5, P = .0007) more than twice as often on average, and showed significantly higher composite utilization scores (23.9 vs. 14.5, P = .041) compared with patients who did not use opioids chronically,” added the study.

The study not only highlights the current practice of frequently dosing patients with painkillers, but also warns about a surge in opioid use in the country resulting from such practices. In general, prescribing opioids and pain relievers is the first line of treatment offered to people suffering from chronic pain and disorder. However, it is also majorly contributing to the rapidly growing opioid epidemic.

Road to recovery

There is a bevy of holistic and alternative pain management options, such as music therapy, yoga, acupuncture, regular physical exercises, supplements and vitamins, and massage, that can offer relief to patients. While all these methods have proved to be effective in reducing pain and assuaging the symptoms, they also do not carry the risk of developing an addiction or causing a side effect.

The opioid epidemic might worsen if such frequent writing of prescriptions continues. If you or your loved one is suffering from opioid abuse or experiencing the onset of the symptoms, you can seek help from Texas Drug Addiction Treatment helpline for guidance and assistance. You can call at our 24/7 helpline (855) 980-5757 or chat online with our expert to know about the best available drug addiction treatment centers near you.

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