We know that the epidemic of prescription drug abuse in the United States has increased in recent years- but a new study out of Mayo Clinic has found that 1 in 4 patients who are prescribed an opioid painkiller progress to long-term prescriptions. Published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings this month, the findings urge both patients and doctors to recognize the risks involved and consider alternative methods of pain management.

“They found that 21 percent, or 61 people, progressed from short-term use to prescriptions lasting three to four months, and 6 percent, or 19, of the 293 studied ended up with more than a four-month supply of the drugs.The identification of nicotine use and substance abuse as top risk factors for long-term use of opioids suggests that physicians should be particularly careful about prescribing the painkillers to patients with such histories, Dr. Hooten says.”

Click here to read the full article for Medical News Today.