A new study by the University of Manchester has highlighted an increased use of opioids during the last ten years suggesting thousands of people may be struggling with opioid addiction. It reveals that the use of prescription drugs has been reported up to thirty folds increase from 2006 to 2017. It includes all prescription drugs such as codeine, tramadol, and oxycodone among others.
The most common use of these opioids is for treating non-cancerous pain. People from major parts of the world i.e. U.S, UK, and Canada have switched to opioids for treating all types of pain, despite having other options available to them. Nearly 14.6% of these users turn out to be long-term users of the opioids hence more likely to suffer from opioid addiction in a few years.
Some health experts blame the changed behavior of physicians who are prescribing these medicines to the patients even for long term usage. While many other health experts say that it is not the attitude of physicians but the need of patients which has led this usage to increase. Whatever the reason, this increased usage has put the health of millions of people at risk for more complications than the pain for which they started to use these opioids in the first place.
A recently published study from PLOS Medicine has analyses the data of people prescribed with opioids for all non-cancer pain. The results reveal that codeine prescriptions have been increased from 484 prescriptions/10,000 from the year 2006 to approximately 2,456 prescriptions/10,000 in the year 2017.
It also reported a thirty-fold increase in using oxycodone which has jumped from 5/10,000 prescriptions (2006) to 169/10,000 in 2017.
There is a sevenfold increase in the usage of tramadol which is reported as 101/10,000 in the year 2006 to 690/10,000 in the year 2017.
People are using these prescription based medicines for treating the pain from fibromyalgia or some rheumatological conditions. But if they have a history of substance, stress, suicidal thoughts, alcohol abuse, trauma or any recent surgery followed by social isolation, the risk of opioid addiction is highest for them.
This study identified ten regions in the UK that reported a high risk for the long-term side effects of opioids. It includes North-West (15.8% risk), Yorkshire (15.3% risk), and the South-West (15.2% risk).
Dr. Meghna Jani, the lead author of this study says that these results indicate an opioid crisis taking place in the whole world. This current study has only identified the risks in the UK but it doesn’t mean that other parts of the world are free from this increased risk of opioid addiction.
The increased use of prescription-based opioids has been associated with the risk of addiction as well as dependence if used for the long term. Although regulatory authorities often share warnings for not to overly use these medicines, these stats make it look like that people are not taking these warning seriously.
This study urges all health authorities to pay attention to the trend of prescribing opioids to patients. Considering the side effects of these medicines, it is necessary to promote the long-term effects especially opioid addiction.