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Addiction Is Top Concern For Patients Prescribed Narcotics

Over a third of patients prescribed opioid painkillers voiced concerns about addiction, poll shows.

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By Victoria Kim

06/30/14

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Addiction is the number one concern about taking narcotic painkillers, according to a poll conducted by NPR and Truven Health Analytics. The nationwide survey aimed to find out people’s general attitudes toward narcotic painkillers.

Most Americans have taken some kind of painkiller at some point in their lives, typically for temporary pain relief from a sprained ankle or surgery, for example. One in five said they had taken painkillers for chronic pain.

“We haven’t been able to really ever get it right, in my opinion, and it’s really been very tough on pain patients who legitimately need the medications,” said Judy Foreman, author of A Nation in Pain. “At the same time, the more prescription opioids there are floating around out there, the more people…are abusing them. So it’s colliding epidemics.”

The number one concern about taking narcotic painkillers was addiction, according to the poll’s results. Seventy-eight percent of those surveyed said they believe there is a link between drug addiction and painkillers. Fewer were concerned about side effects like sleepiness, constipation, and nausea.

Thirty-six percent of those surveyed who had taken painkillers had concerns about them, while people who had not — about 30 percent — were not as concerned. A quarter had refused or questioned an opioid prescription, very similar to the result of a similar poll in 2011.

Despite the concern, however, a majority of those polled believed that such drugs, including the highly controversial opioid Zohydro, should be available to the public.

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