Seniors Given Opioids Likely for Addiction

Opiate based drugs are extremely addictive even for those who do not have a history of substance abuse. Most people go their whole lives without having abused a drug or a drink. As we get older and medical difficulties become more of a reality, the potential for being prescribed addictive medicines becomes more of a reality.

Adults in later years who take opioids after surgery, even a minor procedure, are more likely to become long-term opioid users compared with those who don’t take opioids, according to a new study.

400,000 adults ages 66 or older who had minor surgical procedures, such as cataract removal or varicose vein stripping took part in the study. Around 7 percent were prescribed an opioid such as oxycodone within a week of the surgery, and 7.7 percent were given the drugs one year later, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The results showed that patients who received an opioid prescription within a week of surgery were 44 percent more likely to become long-term opioid users within one year, the researchers report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The researchers pointed out that it is possible that use of these drugs after minor surgery created dependence in some patients. Leaving unused bottles of painkillers in the home “presents a readily available source of opioid diversion among certain surgical patients.”

The study also found that patients who started taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) within a week of surgery were almost four times more likely to become long-term users of such drugs.

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