The shocking truth about painkillers

The shocking truth about painkillers

Prince's death in April shows that opioid abuse in America is reaching concerning levels.

The results are in on Prince’s toxicology report: he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid drug that is emblematic of a growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse in America. And a new study reveals just how problematic it’s becoming.

A new study shows that months after joint replace surgery, many patients are continuing to take powerful prescription painkillers in the opioid class, according to a Wolters Kluwer Health statement.

The rate of opioid overdose in the United States is continuing to rise, with Prince’s death being the most high profile example of it. Prine, who died in April, had hip replacement surgery in 2010 and was known to have used Percocet through the years. Percocet is a common prescription painkiller that is also based on opioids.

Researchers examined more than 500 patients who underwent knee or hip replacement surgery. About 30 percent of them had taken drugs prior to the surgery, and six months after the surgeyr, 53 percent of knee patients and more than a third of hip patients continued to take the drugs.

The strongest predictor of long term use of opioids is taking high doses prior to the surgery, although it is also a risk factor to continuet aking drugs after the surgery, and many develop an addiction this way.

“Among patients not previously taking opioids, those with higher pain scores the day of surgery–both in the affected joint and overall body pain–were more likely to report persistent opioid use at six months. Opioid use was also more likely for patients who scored higher on a measure of pain catastrophizing–exaggerated responses and worries about pain–than those with depressive symptoms,” the statement reads. “For all patients, reductions in overall body pain were associated with decreased odds of being on opioids at six months. However, improvement in knee or hip pain after joint replacement did not reduce the likelihood of long-term opioid use.”

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