As the drug problem continues to get worse throughout many parts of the United States, researchers and clinicians keep looking for answers and solutions. Some are working to find new treatments, while others are searching for understanding of what makes some people more susceptible to becoming addicted.
A new report from the Mayo Clinic shows that there is a strong connection between people who have nicotine dependencies and substance abuse in their past and those that abuse narcotic painkillers. After looking over data from the National Institutes of Health-funded Rochester Epidemiology Project, researchers were able to determine that 25% of nicotine users and substance abusers go on to become prescription painkiller addicts. Prescription opioids have caused tremendous devastation across the country.
“Many people will suggest it’s actually a national epidemic. More people now are experiencing fatal overdoses related to opioid use than compared to heroin and cocaine combined,” explained Dr. W. Michael Hooten, a collaborator on the study.
Researchers hope that the study will be helpful to physicians around the country. The more doctors know about the types of people that are more likely to start abusing the drugs, the more caution they can take when prescribing the painkillers. In the past, physicians have struggled with their duty to eliminate pain and improve their patient’s quality of life against the dangers of prescription drug abuse. The idea that some patients exhibit more traits that can ultimately cause a prescription drug abuse problem is important when trying to reduce the painkiller epidemic in this country.
Dr. Hooten went on to say that sometimes, especially in emergency situations, doctors must prescribe opioid narcotics to patients. He suggests that in these types of cases that the dose is small and that the patient is required to follow up with their doctor in order to get a full prescription. This will allow doctors to keep better tab on their patients, and more hospitals are practicing this method.