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04-17 For Alabama teenagers, dentists are first source of prescription opioids

Posted in Prescription Drugs

For Alabama teenagers, dentists are first source of prescription opioids

Opioid addiction and abuse are much talked about subjects in the United States these days. Researchers and federal agencies alike are constantly finding ways and means to handle the situation by looking or causes and exploring solutions.

Now a new study has revealed that even dentists can facilitate an addiction. The latest research titled “Alabama Medicaid Opioid Prescribing Trends and Outcomes” reveals that half of the teenaged Medicaid patients in Alabama, who were recommended opioid pills in 2016, had received prescriptions from their dentists or oral surgeons.

The data showed that more than 17 percent of the population aged 13-18 years received a prescription for painkillers in 2016. The reason this has raised an alarm is that findings from previous researches indicate how exposure to prescription painkillers at an initial stage can result in unbridled opioid use at later stages.

According to the report, state counties such as Fayette, Bibb, Winston and Lamar are more affected by the opioid epidemic. Talking about the reasons behind the opioid crisis in the state, especially among teenagers, Dr. Peter Waite, chair of the department of oral and maxillofacial surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said, “Going to the dentist is one of the most common reasons for school absences,” thus hinting at the most probable cause.

Dentists foremost prescribers of opioid analgesics

According to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), compared to the national per capita use of 0.71 in 2015, Alabamians misused opioids at a rate of 1.2 prescriptions per person. Some researchers in a 2016 study had stressed on how dentists are among the foremost prescribers of opioid analgesics. The authors of the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in April 2016, emphasize on how dental practitioners continue to prescribe opioids despite findings suggesting that nonsteroidal medications and acetaminophen have the same effect in alleviating post-extraction pain.

The growing abuse of opioids, especially by adolescents, led the American Dental Association (ADA) president Carol Gomez Summerhays to urge dentists all over the U.S. to take necessary steps in bringing the epidemic under control. The ADA, in a series of guidelines, has asked dentists to carry out a medical and dental history to determine the kinds of medications being used prior to prescription of opioids. The main highlights of the guidelines are:

  • Dentists must follow and persistently review recommendations by CDC and State Licensing Boards for safe opioid prescriptions.
  • It is necessary for dentists to enroll themselves with prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) and make use of the same in promoting appropriate use of controlled substances for legal and medical purposes, while also abstaining from misuse and abuse of these substances.
  • Patients should be informed by their dentists regarding the potential impact of misuse, abuse, overdose of opioids, apart from educating them about proper disposal of these medicines.
  • It is advisable for dentists to consider nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory analgesics as the foremost way of treating the pain of their patients.
  • Dental students, residents and practicing dentists should educate themselves about addictive diseases and pain management concerning opioid use.

Recovering from addiction

According to the CDC, over 183,000 people have died from overdoses related to prescription opioids in the U.S. between 1999 and 2015. Surprisingly, not all American teenagers, who are the most vulnerable community, have access to necessary addiction treatment.

Sovereign Health understands the plight of a teenager suffering from addiction to prescription opioid or any other drug. Our Rancho San Diego facility makes available a host of necessary treatment procedures and behavioral therapies for its patients. For more information about prescription drug rehab for adolescents, you may call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-615-7266. Alternatively, you may chat online with our representatives for expert advice about prescription drug treatment program for adolescents in your vicinity.

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