Study Confirms Opioid Abuse Often Starts in the Home

Sitting on swing

A new study confirms that opioid addiction often starts in the family’s medicine cabinet. If someone has surgery and is given OxyContin to manage their pain, it’s more likely that others in the home will get an opioid prescription, too. Prescription opioid use can easily spread within households. The risk is small, around 1 percent. But, across the population, this can add up to a lot of people who are now at a higher risk for opioid addiction.

We are Amidst a Crisis

The opioid crisis continues to devastate our country. According to the CDC, roughly 91 people die every day from opioid-related overdoses. From 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 Americans died from prescription opioid overdoses, which most commonly include methadone, oxycodone and hydrocodone. Additionally, over 1,000 people are treated each day in E.R. centers for misusing prescription painkillers.

Opioid Addictions Can be Preventable

For so many opioid addicts, the first source of getting drugs is their medicine cabinet. Family members might be prescribed them or friends get them from home and sell them to others at school. Once a person starts misusing the drugs, it’s very easy to get addicted. They might try to buy more pills from friends or get their own painkillers. Prescription narcotics can also be a gateway drug to other harmful substances.  

There are effective ways to stop this cycle from happening. Let’s explore what these are.

  • Know when to prescribe opioids. Prescription painkillers are only needed for extreme cases. Non-opioid pain meds will usually do the trick, such as a combination of Tylenol and Advil. Proper prescribing would reduce the number of opioids sitting in medicine cabinets.

  • Limit the number of pills. If opioids are the answer to treating pain, doctors should limit the number of pills they prescribe. Most patients don’t need a month-long prescription to get themselves feeling better. They only need a few days.

  • Keep drugs out of reach. Those with a prescription should be educated on the safekeeping of prescription opioids. The drugs should not be accessible to others and always stored in a locked drawer or cabinet. Pills should be counted each day as well.

  • Teach proper discard methods. It’s not unusual for people to leave opioids around. People need to be educated on the proper disposal methods, such as by returning them to the pharmacy or police station.

Knowing there’s a link between prescription narcotics and use in the household, education is imperative. If someone you know is addicted to opioids, call The River Source. We frequently treat opioid addictions and our therapies have been proven effective.