Opioid prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are driving more people toward heroin use, a recent research at Columbia University (CU) has indicated. The researchers at CU’s School of Public Health reviewed 17 studies and discovered that as prescriptions run dry, people move to stronger street drugs.

Although 10 studies found that post implementation of drug monitoring programs, there have been reduction in opioid overdose deaths, three found that with restricted opioid prescribing heroin use and overdose deaths have increased. The study was published within the Annals of Internal Medicine in May 2023.

PDMPs are utilized by physicians and pharmacists to discover doctor shopping behavior, over-prescription rates and risk of misuse to assist curb the opioid epidemic. These programs are either in place or passed by laws to begin afresh in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In response to lead creator David Fink, it is crucial to know if these programs are instrumental in alleviating the variety of opioid overdose cases.

At places where the programs were effective, the researchers found that the databases was updated a minimum of once per week and there have been well-monitored systems for authorization. Moreover, the system was also updated with those drugs that don’t feature on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) list of scheduled controlled substances.

Co-author Silvia Martins was of the opinion that the “programs geared toward reducing prescription opioids must also address the availability and demand of illicit opioids.” Consequences like people substituting opioids with heroin shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Heroin use often begins with prescription opioids

Many individuals hooked on opioids progress to heroin use because it’s cheaper and simply available. Furthermore, it doesn’t require a prescription. A recent paper even suggested that after the introduction of OxyContin in 2010, “each prevented opioid death was replaced with a heroin death.” Fentanyl use has also increased lately and PDMPs aren’t yet equipped to trace or control its rapid rise.

Patients are generally prescribed opioids after a surgery or after they are in deep pain from some chronic illness. But they are sometimes not educated concerning the potential harm of misuse and abuse by them and their families. Some patients may be prescribed unnecessary refills after they don’t need them.

A recent survey by Mayo Clinic established that a majority of patients (63 percent) who were prescribed opioids after surgery didn’t use them and only 8 percent disposed their leftover medications. The leftover pills could possibly be misused or ingested by children and pets at home.

The monitoring of database necessitates that the doctors check the variety of prescriptions being written, the duration for which they’re being prescribed, and sorts of opioids being given to the patients. Moreover, patients needs to be educated about secure storage and disposal practices.

Recovering from opioid addiction

Opioids are potent drugs which not only numb pain, but additionally produce a euphoric effect. Their long-term use may cause tolerance and dependence. Addiction to opioids can smash an individual’s life affecting his/her psychological and physical health in various ways.

The danger of discord in relationships, lack of productivity at work and faculty as a result of daytime sleepiness and absenteeism, in addition to incidents of driving under the influence, unsafe sexual practices and violence also increase. It will be significant that a person hooked on opioids seeks support from an authorized drug abuse clinic and avails the perfect drug abuse facilities on the earliest.

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