Taking On the Scourge of Opioids | National Affairs

Much of the conventional wisdom surrounding the opioid crisis holds that virtually anyone is at risk for opioid abuse or addiction — say, the average dental patient who receives some Vicodin for a root canal. This is inaccurate, but unsurprising. Exaggerating risk is a common strategy in public-health messaging: The idea is to garner attention and funding by democratizing affliction and universalizing vulnerability. But this kind of glossing is misleading at best, counterproductive at worst. To prevent and ameliorate problems, we need to know who is truly at risk to target resources where they are most needed.

In truth, the vast majority of people prescribed medication for pain do not misuse it, even those given high doses. A new study in the Annals of Surgery, for example, found that almost three-fourths of all opioid painkillers prescribed by surgeons for five common outpatient procedures go unused. In 2014, 81 million people received at least one prescription for an opioid pain reliever, according to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine; yet during the same year, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that only 1.9 million people, approximately 2%, met the criteria for prescription pain-reliever abuse or dependence (a technical term denoting addiction). Those who abuse their prescription opioids are patients who have been prescribed them for over six months and tend to suffer from concomitant psychiatric conditions, usually a mood or anxiety disorder, or have had prior problems with alcohol or drugs.

Source: Taking On the Scourge of Opioids | National Affairs

H/t NeoNeocon– who is right, it is comprehensive!

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8 thoughts on “Taking On the Scourge of Opioids | National Affairs”

  1. If it weren’t for fearmongering, ‘advocates’ would hardly have anything to talk about. I remember the claim that everybody was at risk of AIDS, which, while strictly true, as is the claim that everyone is at risk of being crushed by a meteorite, is a bit misleading: the simple fact remains that avoiding certain behaviors reduces one’s risk of contracting AIDS to infinitesimal.

    Reminds me: I still have some Vicodin in a drawer somewhere left over from years ago for something or other. Somehow, I’m resisting the urge. Cheesecake, OTOH…

    1. Yeah, when we moved this time I found– AGAIN– the bottle of oxy from my first c-section. After a mere six and a half years, I finally got it to the drug dropoff place!

  2. Seems there are always solutions in search of problems. Rabies is the same way. Is not and has never been a problem in the US. The vaccine changed the stats, not at all.

    1. Stats can lie– I don’t know who did the statistics or what sources they were using, but the standard procedure when I was a kid for any unvaccinated animal that was bitten by an animal that was “acting funny” was basically kill them if they got sick at all, in case it was rabies.

      That would play holy hell with statistics by wiping out the main source of positive results. Especially since a rabid wolf and a just plain dangerous wolf are going to act the same way– not being afraid of humans. (It scared me silly when I moved to a small city and the coyotes all acted like dogs, not coyotes– that’s a sign they’re sick, too; no idea if it’s rabies, whatchagonnado, haul the corpse in to examine the brain, if it wasn’t a head-shot?)

    1. Right off the bat, there’s an issue– they’re only looking back 30 years, and it’s been normal to vaccinate for that long.

      It happens that my sister was bitten by a dog roughly 30 years ago– unvaccinated.
      At that time, if you can’t verify that the dog was either vaccinated or examine the brain to make sure they weren’t rabid, there was a course of treatment that was standard.
      It involved a long series of shots delivered through the stomach, which scared my little sister even more than the idea of dying.

      If I understand it right, the current treatment is a lot less horror-movie level, but the authors are still ignoring that there is treatment for humans bitten by rabid animals. If you’re fast enough.

    2. Here’s the rabies treatment now.
      http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rabies/diagnosis-treatment/treatment/txc-20263346

      Looked over the article again, and they’re also ignoring the very publicly stated reason for vaccinating pets– it’s part of why we don’t have a big rabies problem.

      We lost a cat to a bad reaction to rabies vaccination, and the cost isn’t nothing, so I’m sympathetic to their argument– but the stuff they’re leaving out is…well, I’m not sure HOW a professional would do that without it being deliberate. So either they’re inflating their qualifications, or they’re being deliberately misleading.

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