Prescriptions may hold clues to who gets hooked on opioids, study says


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Using a narcotic for 8 days or more increases the likelihood that you will keep using it, a study says

Long-acting painkillers were more likely to lead to chronic use, the CDC study says

CNN —  

The duration of a prescription may give clues into how long a person ends up using a narcotic painkiller, a new study finds.

The study in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report finds that when you use a narcotic painkiller for just one day, you have only a 6% chance of still using that drug a year later. But when that prescription is for eight or more days, your likelihood of using the drug a year later jumps to 13.5%. And although just less than 7% of all prescriptions exceed a month’s dosage, using for 31 days or more increases your chances of long-term opioid use to 29.9%.

“The initial prescription a clinician writes has a pretty profound impact on a person’s (likelihood) for being a long-term opioid user,” said Bradley Martin, co-author of the study and head of the Division of Pharmaceutical Evaluation and Policy at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy.

Considering that prescription opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone were involved in 24% of all drug overdoses in 2015, experts have said, management of prescription drug overdoses is a key element of fighting the opioid epidemic.