Contrary to one might expect in regards to opioid overdoses, people who overdose on opioid pain medications are not chronic users or users with prescriptions for high doses. Rather, many overdoses have been tied to individuals prescribed low doses for intermittent use. The groups currently targeted by opioid prescription guides belong to the first group – chronic users with high prescribed doses. Lead authors of the study suggest that this new-found information will likely need to influence guideline revisions.
“Only 44 percent of patients who overdosed on opioid pain medications were chronic users, with more than a 90-day supply of prescribed opioid medications in the prior year… Concurrent use of sedatives was another important contributing factor–nearly half of patients also had a sedative prescription at the time of their opioid overdose. That was so for poisonings caused by either methadone or prescription opioids.”
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