For years we have known that opioids (drugs such as Norco, percocet, oxycontin, morphine, fentanyl, etc.) are dangerous. They can lead to dependence and addiction. They can often also lead to overdose and death.
A new study suggests that the risk is higher than previously thought. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study, released on March 17, 2017, (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6610a1.htm) evaluated the likelihood of long term opioid use by studying opioid use patterns in the U.S. between 2006-2015. The study demonstrated that patients who had one day of opioid therapy had a 6% chance of long term dependence (still being on it one year later). People who took opioids for eight days or longer had a 13.5% chance of still being on them one year later. And people who used opioids for 31 days or longer had a 29.9% chance of being on them one year later. The CDC study’s conclusion was as follows: “When initiating opioids, caution should be exercised when prescribing >1 week of opioids or when authorizing a refill or a second opioid prescription because these actions approximately double the chances of use 1 year later.”
Because of these risks, we will try to prescribe the lowest dose of opioid (narcotic) that is helpful to reduce your pain. In some instances, we will decide against opioids to treat your pain as the risk outweighs the benefits.