Use Among Mentally Ill May Be Key To Opioid Epidemic
The opioid epidemic has reached massive proportions over the last few years. Researchers and pundits searched for the key to why such a high use level among the US and World populations.
Opioids dominated much of the Workers Comp pharmaceutical discussions for years.
I came across a research paper and associated article by the Kaiser foundation. Mental illness affects 16% of the US population. However, 16% of the population accounts for 51% of all opioid use.
The numbers mean that the population with a mental illness uses opioids at a rate 318% higher than the general population – wow!
One area the article focuses on is that alternative therapies should be the focus of pain reduction – behavioral intervention.
Study Executive Summary
Background: The extent to which adults with mental health disorders in the United States receive opioids has not been adequately reported.
Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study of a nationally representative sample of the noninstitutionalized U.S. adult population from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. We examined the relationship between mental health (mood and anxiety) disorders and prescription opioid use (defined as receiving at least 2 prescriptions in a calendar year).
Results: We estimate that among the 38.6 million Americans with mental health disorders, 18.7%(7.2 million of 38.6 million) use prescription opioids. Adults with mental health conditions receive 51.4% (60 million of 115 million prescriptions) of the total opioid prescriptions distributed in the
United States each year. Compared with adults without mental health disorders, adults with mental health disorders were significantly more likely to use opioids (18.7% vs 5.0%; P < .001). In adjusted analyses, having a mental health disorder was associated with prescription opioid use overall (odds
ratio, 2.08; 95% confidence interval, 1.83–2.35).
Conclusions: 16% of Americans who have mental health disorders receive over half of all opioids
prescribed in the United States. Improving pain management among this population is critical to
reducing national dependency on opioids. ( J Am Board Fam Med 2017;30:000 – 000.)
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