The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) defines opioid use disorder (OUD) as a problematic pattern of opioid use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress. It is characterized by a range of symptoms including a nagging desire for opioids and experiencing opioid withdrawal symptoms in the absence of the drug. Another attribute common to opioid abuse disorder patients is the failure to meet daily obligations, whether at home or at work.
According to a 2016 report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), nearly 10 million Americans, or 4.1 percent of the adult population used opioids such as OxyContin and Vicodin, without any prescription, in a year prior to the study. In the wake of the current opioid crisis, the authorities are taking immediate steps to reduce the number of new cases of addiction. Whether it be facilitating specialized treatment through rehabs and detox centers or ensuring that recovering individuals have an easy access to drugs like Naltrexone, a lot is being done to mitigate the drastic effects of opioid addiction.
More opioid-addicted patients die in generalized hospital settings than in specialized ones
Most opioid patients require intensive care in a rehabilitation center and a follow-up program post recovery. In the United States, 17,000 people lose their lives every year to opioids, according to a 2016 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Worldwide there are 16 million people with a current or past opioid disorder, while in the U.S. alone, 3 million people are battling with an opioid abuse disorder, observed the study.
In most cases, one of the leading causes of deaths is accidental opioid poisoning. Even children are not spared from this scourge, since there were many instances in the past where children accidentally ingested a prescription drug due to their parent’s carelessness. A recent study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine has come up with startling facts about opioid-related deaths. It states that general hospital settings are associated with higher incidences of serious illnesses and mortalities with regard to opioid abuse disorder. Admittedly, these rates have been found to be higher than specialized clinical settings or rehabs.
In the study, during the four-year follow-up period, nearly one-fifth of the patients died as a result of a serious illness or complications arising due to OUD. Health issues such as cardiovascular diseases, comorbid condition such as cancer and hepatitis C were found to be quite common among OUD patients. In fact, the risk of death was twice as high for patients with a comorbid Hepatitis C virus infection as compared to OUD. While patients abusing tobacco along with opioids had higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, HCV infection was associated with cancer and liver ailments.
Currently, most of the general health care facilities are not adequately equipped to deal with the problem of substance abuse. One of the core reasons for this current endemic is believed to be the failure to identify opioid abuse in patients at an early stage. However, if patients come out in the open about their addiction problem, the possibilities of their recovery through a medically assisted treatment and abstinence-oriented rehabilitation is expected to be higher.
The authors believe that an early intervention in general medical care might be useful in reducing some of the serious complications and death among patients with OUD. “Further research is much needed to better engage the entire spectrum of healthcare services, with the goal of developing and delivering efficient and effective chronic care management approaches and services for OUD,” said the researchers.
Road to recovery
With an increase in deaths caused due to prescription drug overdoses across all U.S. states, it is important to seek immediate professional help. If you know someone who is addicted to prescription drugs, contact the Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline to find the top prescription drug abuse treatment centers in the U.S. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-450-1557 or chat online with our representatives to know more about the best prescription drug treatment facility in your locality.