Opioids Prescribed Short-term for Postoperative Pain Increased Addiction and Dependency Rates

Former pro volleyball player, Gabrielle Reece adds her voice to presurgical discussions campaign—Choices Matter in Pain Management

A recent study reported a significant increase (10%) in opioid addiction or dependency in patients who received prescription opioid medication to treat postsurgical pain (eg, short-term use). Wakefield Research on behalf of Pacira Pharmaceuticals, Inc. conducted a national telephone survey that involved 200 surgeons and 500 adult patients in the United States. The surgeons who participated in the study had performed orthopaedic or soft-tissue surgeries (spine surgeries were not part of the study) within the past 12 months.

Among the surgeons questioned, the survey findings reported that 94% “frequently prescribe opioids to manage pain.”1 The survey results indicated a particular point of interest that was described as alarming:

  • 91% of these doctors prescribed the opioids not because they truly felt they were needed, but because their patients insisted on having them.

Furthermore, the survey results indicated that upwards of 70% of patients queried had asked their surgeon for a specific opioid by name.

Patient Awareness
The survey report stated that “83% of patients agree opioids taken following surgery can lead to addiction or dependence,” and 37% indicated addition or dependence was a primary concern.1 Patient awareness about opioids extended to knowing about the potential risks or side effects, including constipation, nausea and/or vomiting, and dizziness

Do patients and their surgeons discuss opioid-related risks and the potential for addiction or dependence? Thirty-four percent (34%) of patients said yes. A smaller percentage (23%) indicated discussing non-opioid treatments to manage pain after surgery. Regarding non-opioid options for postoperative pain, the majority of patients (79%) and surgeons (70%) would make a non-opioid choice if effective.

Volleyball Player Understands Presurgical Pain Relief Discussion
Gabrielle ReeceCelebrity and former pro volleyball player Gabrielle Reece has joined the campaign, Choices Matter in Pain Management to enhance Americans’ understanding of potential surgery-related opioid addiction or dependency. The program is sponsored by Pacira Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in collaboration with the American Society of Enhanced Recovery (ASER).

“I knew pain would be a natural part of the recovery process following my knee replacement operation. Even before my surgery, I made a personal decision not to rely too heavily on opioids to manage my symptoms,” Ms. Reece said.

The Choices Matter program is designed to encourage both doctors and patients to talk about options for postoperative pain management—before the operative procedure.

“Ultimately, we’re [all] the number-one cheerleaders for our health, so asking questions is key,” says Ms. Reece. “The more information we have about our options, the better we can collaborate with our doctors on a personalized plan that gets us back on our feet again as quickly and safely as possible after surgery.”

Updated on: 09/06/16
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Opioids and Pain Relief
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Opioids and Pain Relief

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