Opioid Addiction: Are You at Risk?

Opioid Addiction: Are You at Risk?


Welcome to Dr. David Eifrig’s Health & Wealth
Bulletin. This is Weekly Update. This week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions
announced the formation of the Prescription Interdiction and Litigation Task Force, which
is charged with taking on the growing opioid epidemic in America. In fact, Jeff Sessions called this the “deadliest
drug crisis in American history.” In fact, every day, about 91 Americans die
from an opioid overdose. That’s why today we want to talk about what
opioids are, who is most at risk, and what you can do should you get an opioid prescription. So first we want to tackle what opioids are. These are synthetic painkillers that are designed
to bind to our opioid receptors in our brains to help interrupt the pain pathway. They’re about 1.5 times more powerful than
morphine. And they include oxycodone, codeine, hydrocodone,
and fentanyl. Popular brand names include OxyContin and
Vicodin. Now, according to the U.S. Healthcare Cost
and Utilization Project, in the past 20 years, there’s been an increase of about five-fold
for the number of seniors admitted to the hospital for opioid-related problems. Seniors, in fact, are the largest population
rise in hospital stays for opioid problems. They’re the group most at risk now because
they’re getting more and more prescriptions for opioids. Part of the problem with seniors dealing with
opioids is that they have a weaker immune system, along with altered hormones, and a
propensity to overdose because they may not be able to feel the effects as easily. This sets them up for an opioid addiction
over time. Another problem with this, according to the
Journal of the American Geriatric Society, is that folks 65 and older who are taking
opioids for arthritis pain actually have an increased risk of fracture. And that brings us to our third point, which
is the complications that seniors are more likely to face with opioids. The first of these is an increased risk of
falling. That’s because opioids interfere with the
central nervous system and if you’re already unsteady on your feet, it can make you dizzy
and lead to falls, which then lead to fractures. Opioids also contribute to confusion, constipation,
and respiratory depression. Seniors are also at a higher risk for drug
interactions. That’s because they’re on a higher number
of prescription medications that can often lead to lethal side effects. In addition, seniors may have more trouble
with memory and because opioids rely on a take as needed basis, they’re more likely
to take too many pills in a 24 hour period. And finally, the detox effect for opioids
in the system is actually slower for seniors. That means that it takes longer for the drugs
to get through their system and for them to recover. And finally, our last point. Should you go to the doctor and they prescribe
you an opioid, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is to remember that usually opioids
are now prescribed for short-term use. This is essential especially if you’re recovering
from surgery. But if they do prescribe an opioid for a longer-term
use, there are three questions you need to ask your doctor. The first is to ask if there are any non-opioid
medications or therapies that you can try. The second is to ask if the doctor has a contract
for opioids. A contract in this case is a set of rules
that you will need to follow while on your opioid medication. These can include things like an increased
number of doctor visits to make sure that you’re monitoring your medication correctly. And the third question is, can I see a pain
specialist. Now these are folks who are specially trained
not only to help you manage pain, but also manage all of your medications. They can help lower the risk of any other
complications. That’s it for now. Keep sending your questions and comments to
our feedback line. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. And we’ll see you next week.

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