The use of opioid narcotics for the treatment of pain is a controversial subject in the United States. Our population accounts for about five percent of the world, but Americans use as much as 80 percent of all prescription opioids globally. It’s no secret that rampant overprescribing is commonplace in the United States.
More than two decades into the most severe drug addiction epidemic in history, doctors continue to prescribe narcotics recklessly. Prescription opioids are highly addictive and can impact a person’s mental health.
While the writing of opioid prescriptions has decreased in recent years, doctors handed out enough opioid prescriptions for every person to have one in 11 percent of American counties, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2018, 168,158,611 prescriptions for opioids were filled—51.4 prescriptions per 100 Americans.
Opioids are prescribed even when more effective pain management options are available. Research shows that drugs like oxycodone and hydromorphone are more useful for acute pain and less so for chronic pain. Managing chronic injuries with opioids can heighten pain sensitivity and hinder physical recovery, according to Zachary Mannes, a postdoctoral fellow at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
Greater pain sensitivity can lead patients to use more than is prescribed to achieve the relief desired. Naturally, misusing prescription opioids can be life-threatening. Whenever one takes more than prescribed, the risk of overdose increases exponentially.
A meta-analysis of 96 clinical trials of prescription opioids for chronic, non-cancer pain showed that opioids provide little benefit for patients. Simply put, the risk of using opioids to treat chronic pain outweighs the benefits.
With nearly 100,000 drug overdoses each year, doctors can do their patients a service by relying on alternative pain management forms. They should only resort to opioids when other methods fall short. Exercise and physical rehabilitation may prove far more beneficial.
NFL Retirees On Opioids
With the above in mind, you may find it interesting that many former NFL athletes had been taking opioids consistently for nearly a decade. A new study, co-authored by Mannes, indicated that players continue to take opioids long into retirement.
Mannes, a recent graduate of the doctoral program in clinical psychology at the University of Florida, found that nearly 50 percent of 90 retired footballers who reported using opioids in 2010 were still using them in 2019, HealthDay reports. The findings appear in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
According to the article, of those still taking opioids nearly ten years later, about 60% reported moderate to severe depressive symptoms. What’s more, they had a low mental health-related quality of life.
“It is possible that NFL retirees with depressive symptoms are more likely to self-medicate their mental health symptoms and emotional pain through use of opioids,” Mannes said.
Mannes recommends that doctors working with NFL athletes should utilize alternative forms of pain management.
Opioid Addiction Treatment
Prolonged use of prescription painkillers can lead to dependence and opioid use disorder. Many individuals find it exceedingly challenging to stop taking opioids once addiction sets in; opioid withdrawal symptoms are incredibly uncomfortable.
Professional help is often required to break the cycle of dependence and addiction. Please contact Hope By The Sea if you are struggling with opioid use disorder. Our team of highly skilled addiction professionals can help you get on the path to recovery.