Overdoses from prescription opioids are a driving factor in the 16-year increase in opioid overdose deaths. The amount of prescription opioids sold to pharmacies, hospitals, and doctors’ offices nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2010, yet there was no overall change in the amount of pain reported. Deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have more than quadrupled since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Risk of Addiction
Addiction can occur:
- In patients appropriately prescribed and at recommended doses
- If the drug is misused or abused
Persons at increased risk of opioid addiction include those with:
- A personal or family history of substance abuse (drug or alcohol abuse and addiction)
- Mental illness (major depression)
Drug Addiction--Cluster of behavioral, cognitive, and physiological phenomena that develop after repeated substance use. Includes:
- A strong desire to take the drug
- Difficulties in controlling its use
- Persisting in its use despite harmful consequences
- A higher priority given to drug use than to other activities and obligations
- Increased tolerance
- Sometimes a physical withdrawal
Abuse and Misuse
- Opioid analgesics have high potential for abuse and risk of fatal overdose due to respiratory depression
- Opioids expose patients and other users to the risks of addiction, abuse and misuse
- Opioids are sought by drug abusers and people with addiction disorders and are subject to criminal diversion
Drug Abuse—The intentional non-therapeutic use of a prescription drug, even once, for its rewarding psychological or physiological effects.
Guideline for Prescribing
Read the CDC’s Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.
See details about QualChoice Coverage Limits on Short-Acting Opioids.
As with all prescription medications, indications and usage, dosage and administration, warnings and precautions, drug interactions, and adverse reactions for specific opioid analgesics vary and the full prescribing information (FPI) for the individual opioid analgesic must be consulted.
Adapted from ©2017 Purdue Pharma L.P., Stamford, CT 06901