A study recently published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings looks at patients who received a short-term prescription for narcotic painkillers trying to determine who is at a greater risk for long-term dependence. Study results showed that 21% of the patients included in this study, extended the use of prescribed opioid painkillers such as: oxycodone (Oxycontin),hydrocodone (Vicodin), codeine and methadone for as much as 3-4 months and 6% extended the use beyond 4 months. The risk of abusing short-term pain treatment was higher in patients with histories of drug abuse and/or smoking. There are more reported overdoses with painkillers than with heroin or cocaine, and painkiller use is quickly becoming an epidemic according to Dr. W. Michael Hooten, anesthesiologist who led the study. How do you address this growing problem in your practice?
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