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Statistics in Opioid Use: Why medication monitoring is important

September 06, 2014

According to the International Association for the Study of Pain, chronic pain generally refers to pain that “persists beyond normal tissue healing time, which is assumed to be three months.” 1 The statistics on the prevalence of chronic pain and the pervasive inappropriate use of pain medication make an overwhelming case for pain medication monitoring as a part of effective patient and medication management.

    • One in four Americans suffers from chronic pain.2
    • Chronic noncancer pain (CNCP) is a leading cause of disability.3,4
    • For many patients, opioids are an integral part of a comprehensive pain management plan to help relieve pain, restore functioning and improve quality of life.5
    • Through point of care drug testing, one national study found that many pain patients may not be taking their medications as prescribed. The study also found the following about the monitored patients:
      • 39% did not have the prescribed opioid present.
      • 29% had non-prescribed opioid medications present.
      • 11% had illicit drugs detected in their urine.6
      • The 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports a steady increase in the number of Americans abusing prescription pain medication. 7
      • Rising rates of prescription drug abuse and emergency room admissions related to prescription drug abuse, as well as an increase in the theft and illegal resale of prescription drugs, indicate that drug diversion is a growing problem nationwide.8The main source of drug diversion is unlikely the prescriber as was once assumed, but rather from theft by family, friends and workers in the home or from the sharing and selling of medications though often with good intentions.9