I was recently invited to attend a meeting on the use of multimodality therapy to decrease the use of opioids in the US population. Unless you’ve been away on a remote island for a long time or completely eschew any sort of media including newspapers and TV, you’ve probably heard that we have a problem with opioid use in this country. I knew the numbers were bad, but frankly I came away from this meeting completely floored. Here are some statistics that should make you pause and take notice:
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Carroll I, et al, A pilot study of the determinants of longitudinal opioid use after surgery. Anesth Analg. 2102; 115(3): 694-702. NIH, National Institute on Drug Abuse. Prescription and over-the-counter medications. Drug Facts. Revised Nov 2015. http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-over-the-countermedications. Accessed 08/24/16.
Wang M, et al. Predictors of 12-month opioid use after elective cervical spine surgery for degenerative changes [abstract]. Spine. 2103; 13(suppl): S6-S7.
Manchikanti L, et al. Opioid epidemic in the United States. Pain Physician. 2012; 15(3 suppl): ES9-ES38. Office of National Drug Control Policy. 2013 Drug overdose mortality data announced: prescription opioid deaths level; heroin-related deaths rise[press release]. 01/12/15. http://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/news-releases/2013-mortality-data. Accessed 08/24/16.
Busch S, et al. Abuse of prescription medication risks heroin use. Infographic created for: National Institute on Drug Abuse. http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/abuse-prescription-pain-medication-risks-heroin-use. Accessed 08/24/16.
Obviously, given the scope of the problem, you might suspect that there is no one or easy answer and you would be correct. There is plenty of blame to go around on all sides of this major issue, but that also means there may be many avenues from which to address the problem. The people in the conference today are at the forefront of this epidemic and have a number of interesting ideas and strategies as to how to begin to tackle this problem. Stay tuned….