Even short-term opioid use can set people up for addiction risks | Science News

SUPPORT SCIENCE NEWS

Science News is a nonprofit.

Help us keep you informed.


News

Even short-term opioid use can set people up for addiction risks

Patients prescribed 30 or more pills for an ankle sprain are more likely to seek refills

By
9:00am, May 19, 2017
opioid pills

DOCTOR’S ORDERS  Opioids may seem like overkill for an ankle sprain. But some people who visited ERs with the minor injury in 2011 and 2012 were prescribed the drugs, raising questions if some are being needlessly exposed to the potentially addictive painkillers, a new study finds.

Even though a sprained ankle rarely needs an opioid, a new study of emergency room patients found that about 7 percent of patients got sent home with a prescription for the potentially addictive painkiller anyway. And the more pills prescribed, the greater the chance the prescription would be refilled, raising concerns about continued use.

The research adds to evidence that it’s hard for some people to stop taking the pills even after a brief use. State officials in New Jersey recently enacted a law limiting first-time prescriptions to a five-day supply, and other states should consider similar restrictions, says Kit Delgado, an assistant professor of Emergency Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania.

“The bottom line is that we need to do our best not to expose people to opioids,” Delgado says. “And if we do, start with the smallest quantity possible.” The research was presented May 17 at the Society for Academic

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content