Doctors can help patients avoid opioid addiction by prescribing a supply of three days or less, according to the report that was published March 17 in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Opioids are powerful pain relieving drugs.
More than six out of 10 overdose deaths involve opioids and ninety-one people die every day in the U.S. from opioids or heroin, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
For this study, the researchers looked at data from health insurers and care plans on opioid usage in patients not being treated for cancer. They found that the more days a patient was prescribed opioids, the more likely they were to develop a dependency.
“The chances of long-term opioid use, use that lasts one year or more, start increasing with each additional day supplied, starting after the third day, and increase substantially after someone is prescribed five or more days, and especially after someone is prescribed one month of opioid therapy,” said senior researcher Martin Bradley.
With the knowledge that longer opioid prescriptions increase the risk of addiction, researchers hope that doctors will evaluate their opioid prescriptions and possibly reduce the risk for longstanding opioid use.
Written by: Katherine Heighway | Medically Reviewed by Dr. Robert Carlson, M.D.