More and more Americans with chronic pain are taking medically prescribed opioids like Oxycontin and Vicodin. In a study published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the risk of overdose in these patients is examined. The study connects the risk of fatal and non-fatal opioid overdose to prescription use – strongly associated the risk with the prescribed dose of the drug.
Almost 10,000 patients who received multiple opioid prescriptions for back pain and osteoarthritis. Patients who received higher doses were nine times more likely to overdose than were those patients receiving low doses of the drugs. Most of the overdoses happened with patients receiving low to medium doses, because prescriptions at those levels were much more common.
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