Strategies to Keep your Patients from Forming a Deadly Addiction to Opioids after Surgery
Did you know the chances of opioid dependence can begin within just three days of initial opioid use?  Even a one-day opioid prescription poses a 6 percent risk of long-term use. And, as many as 1 in 5 patients become a routine opioid user after just 10 days of narcotic analgesia.  And the probability of long-term opiate abuse increases sharply with each refill and week of opioid use.
Drug overdose is a fast-growing problem accounting for 63,632 deaths in 2016 with 66% related to opioids. The epidemic affects all areas of the country and involves both men and women over 15 of all races and ethnicities, according to the CDC.
Therefore, consistent with CDC guidelines, prescribers need to make smart, informed choices when doling out powerful opiates including prescribing lowest, immediate-release doses to lessen the possibility of abuse, misuse or overdose. 
The agency also urges physicians to refrain from prescribing opioids for chronic pain, except for cancer patients and end-of-life care, and discussing with patients the long-term plan for pain management up front. 
Physician providers should also:
- Note that painkiller overdose is a risk for women 
- Recognize that responsible prescribing—including monitoring for abuse—is the recommended guideline 
- Identify patients who may be abusing prescription opiates using a prescription drug monitoring program. 
So where does that leave patients who need post-op pain management?
There are alternatives. ON-Q*, for instance, an opioid-sparing pain pump used for pain management in orthopedic surgery, uses a multimodal approach to deliver up to five days of predictable pain relief, and is indicated to significantly reduce the need for opioids and provide better pain relief than opioids alone.
Opioids are associated with 55% longer length of stay after surgery. ON-Q* helps patients get back to normal faster as they are more likely to experience better pain management with fewer side effects.
Additionally, ON-Q* offers customizable control with titratability and provides the ability to turn analgesia on and off. Patients have more control, fewer complications like over-sedation and constipation, and shorter hospital stays. In fact, patients who are administered ON-Q* spend 1.1 fewer days in the hospital.
Your patient’s satisfaction, and the goal to improve postoperative care and reduce side effects, hospital stays and recovery are always top of mind. With the opioid crisis at the forefront of pain management today, physicians looking to become part of the solution in reducing opioid addiction and overdose risk may look to the use of ON-Q* for delivering a better post-surgical outcome for their patients.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Characteristics of Initial Prescription Episodes and Likelihood of Long-Term Opioid Use—United States, 2006-2015. [cited July 5, 2018] Available from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/rr/rr6501e1.htm#B1_down
- Brat, G. Post Surgical Prescriptions for Opiate Naive Patients and Association with Overdose and Misuse: Respective Cohort Study. [cited Jan. 17, 2018]; Available from https://www.bmj.com/content/360/bmj.j5790
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Drug Overdose Deaths Continue to Rise; increase fueled by synthetic opioids. [cited March 29, 2018] Available from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0329-drug-overdose-deaths.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prescription painkiller overdoses. CDC [Internet] 2017 March [cited May 2018] Available from https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/prescriptionpainkilleroverdoses/index.html