The opioid epidemic has been a long-battle.
Throughout the United States, there are individuals of all ages and all backgrounds fighting their addiction to opioids and trying to get help with their recovery. As a response, the country has been trying to discover new tactics and solutions for how to help the addicted and the families of the addicted.
When attempting to address the opioid crisis, research has shown that after a teenager goes through surgery and is prescribed an opioid painkiller, their chances of becoming abusers of the drug doubles. A study done of over 300,000 individuals all around the age of 17 has discovered that, “…after being prescribed an opioid painkiller for post-op pain, 4.1 percent went on to use the drug long-term if another person living in the family home had already been using opioids long-term” . In other words, when the family member of a teenager has already proven to be an abuser of opioids, it is likely that this is going to pass down.
Drug abuse can be hereditary.
Though this is something that not many people take into consideration, the fact that a family member abused a drug increases the chances for this same behavior to pass down to future generations. Research has shown that, “a family history of substance use is a potent risk factor for opioid misuse in relatives…for kids in particular, ‘permissive family norms and exposure to substance use among parents and siblings’ are also strongly tied to drug abuse in adolescents” .
With these studies and observations, physicians are being encouraged to screen their young patients for long-term opioid within their families, in order to prevent them from going down the same path. If a physician were to step back and look at the family history, they would be capable of discovering a pattern—if there is one—with opioid abuse and would be able to take the next steps in order to ensure that their current patient is not given the drug because their history shows that they have high chances of abusing opioids as well.
If there is a history of abuse, different prescriptions should be sought.
Of course, after going through surgery a patient is going to need some sort of painkiller to aid in their recovery process and make the healing less painful and gruesome. However, with the pain after surgery being severe and its severity increasing depending upon the individual and the surgery being done, this could increase the amount of prescriptions that they in order to relieve that pain. People become so addicted to this drug because they are trying to relieve themselves of the pain throughout the recovery process.
With the potential of abuse being high in a patient’s family, overall, they should not be given opioids at all. Though it is a commonly used painkiller, that is the reason why it has been capable of being abused by so many individuals across the country. And with the number of abusers so high, taking initiatives to decrease this number is the correct response; but new tactics have to be implemented.
The world is seeing the increased availability of rehabilitation centers, individuals being forced into care, people holding interventions in order to get their loved ones the help that they need—various tactics, but the numbers are still high. However, instead of just tackling those who have already began abusing opioids, the goal now would be to take the steps to prevent anyone else from becoming an abuser in the first place.
If a doctor sees that a parent, sibling or close relative of a patient has had a history of opioid abuse—especially long-term—then they should find another prescription or solution to make the patient’s recovery process less painful. Though the new tactic or prescription may not be as powerful as an opioid painkiller, it is much better than exposing the patient to the potential future of becoming an opioid abuser. Of course, not every patient with the family history of abuse is going to become an abuser, but it is better to be safe than sorry.