Misperceptions about the ‘Opioid Epidemic’

Misperceptions about the ‘Opioid Epidemic:’ Exploring the Facts – ScienceDirectPain Management Nursing – Feb 2020

A scientific article published on a scientific site at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1524904219300724

Coming from nurses working directly with patients, this is excellent information you can print out and take to your doctor if they claim they have to taper your opioid pain medication even though you are using it correctly, managing the side effects, and getting good pain relief from this medication.

Misperception 1: Deaths Reported as “Prescription Opioid Deaths” Indicate That Prescribed Opioids Are the Direct Cause of Death

Fact: Prescription opioid-related deaths are deaths where prescription opioids are present at the time of death but may not be the cause of the death.

Misperception 2: The United States Is the Biggest Consumer of Opioids, Indicating Opioid Overprescribing Is Unchecked

Fact: The data supporting the idea that United States is the biggest consumer of opioids are misleading because they are taken out of context.

Misperception 3: Prescription Opioid OD Deaths Continue to Escalate and Cause the Majority of Opioid-Related Deaths

Fact: Illicit opioids are primarily driving the current rise in opioid-related OD deaths, whereas prescription opioid OD deaths declined after 2011, with small rises since 2014.

Misperception 4: More People Die from Prescription OD Deaths Than from Motor Vehicle Accidents

Fact: Prescription OD deaths continue to be fewer than motor vehicle accidents (MVAs), even though all opioid OD deaths have exceeded MVAs

Misperception 5: The Long-Term Use of Opioids Is Not Supported by Evidence for Either Benefit or Safety.

Fact: Although there many studies showing opioid effectiveness in short-term trials (<12 weeks), there are very few randomized controlled trials (RCTs) conducted for 1 year or more on opioid AND nonopioid analgesics as a result of multiple limiting factors.

Misperception 6: The Statistics Published by the CDC Are Always of the Highest Quality and Should Be Used Without Question

Fact: Some data published by the CDC are based on less-than-high-quality data and can be misleading and lack transparency in how it is calculated.

Misperception 7: Opioid Prescribing Continues to Increase and Decreasing Opioid Prescribing Will Decrease the Overdose Death Rate

Fact: Overall opioid prescribing has been in multiyear decline beginning in 2012, with modest increase in 2016. There is a nonlinear relationship between opioid prescribing rates and opioid death rates.

Misperception 8: High Doses of Prescription Opioids Based on Morphine Milligram Equivalents per Day Significantly Raise the Risk of OD, and Dose Limits Are Necessary to Lower OD Events.

Fact: Opioid ODs can occur at any dose and are influenced by multiple factors, not just dose alone.

Misperception 10: Prescription Opioids Used Postoperatively Often Lead to Long-Term Opioid Use and Potential Addiction

Fact: A small percentage of patients use opioids long-term postoperatively, and this is influenced by multiple risk factors and chronic postoperative pain.

Misperception 11: Prescription Opioid Use Often Leads to Heroin Initiation

Fact: Prescription opioid use infrequently leads to heroin initiation.