Recent data released by the National Health Service (NHS) found that twice as many patients are being admitted for painkiller overdoses now than they were 10 years ago.
According to the figures, nearly 11,000 people were admitted last year for overdoses caused by opioids including morphine, codeine, and fentanyl, up from just over 5,000 in 2006. Dr. Jane Quinlan, a pain management and anesthesia at Oxford University Hospitals said that the sharp rise was “very worrying,” but that doctors were still working to determine whether these overdoses were caused by accidental overdoses or by people who were addicted to the drugs.
“These figures confirm fears that the increase in opioid prescribing and availability has broader consequences,” she said. “I have also seen patients taking more opioids than they should because they were desperate to treat their pain, even though we know they are unlikely to be effective; some who have taken them as a deliberate suicide attempt – sometimes because of the pain – and some who have become acutely hypersensitive to their normal opioid doses as a result of a chest infection or other infection.”
Doctors are working to find the best balance between ensuring that their patients receive the treatment they need without going beyond boundaries that ensure safety.
“Nobody wants to deprive people of a valuable pain medication, but there needs to be better risk assessment and monitoring at a primary care level – and more dedicated services for people who actually have a problem with opiate painkillers, and clearly more public awareness of the risks of overdose,” said Harry Shapiro, the director of DrugWise, an online drug information service.
The opioid epidemic is a worldwide issue, and our medical staff at Schick Shadel Hospital remain committed to providing our patients with the care they need to break free from their addictions and move forward with their lives. Give us a call at (800) 272-8464 to discuss our treatment options today, or send us a confidential message to learn more about what we can do to help you.