The opioid crisis in the United States has increased the disease burden on the entire population by escalating the number of overdose deaths. Most of the prescription opioids not only significantly heighten the risk of addiction among individuals taking such drugs in a nonmedical manner, but also aggravate the underlying symptoms of psychiatric illnesses by turning it into a full-blown mental disorder. Despite the fact that underlying mental issues increase the risk of abusing opioids, people with mental disorders continue to consume disproportionate number of prescription painkillers than others. Approximately 51 percent of the opioids are prescribed to adults with psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety disorders, depression, etc. In view of the distribution of opioids in the form of candies, prescription drug abuse has emerged as a major health concern. One can comprehend the interrelationship between mental disorders and opioid abuse by going through some of the eye-opening statistics. The recently released 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) highlights the following facts: Among the 19 million adults who had a past year substance use disorder (SUD), 2.6 million or 13.8 percent also had a serious mental illness (SMI) in the past year. Of the estimated 2.1 million individuals aged 12 and older had an opioid use disorder (OUD) and 44.7 million individuals aged 18 or above met the criteria for any mental illness (AMI) in the past year in 2016. Because SUDs and SMIs share a reciprocal relation, they often trigger one another. Since mental condition plays a key role in intensifying the feeling of pain that often becomes unbearable, medical practitioners prefer prescribing painkillers to subside the pain. Opioid use more common among mentally ill
A joint study carried out by the researchers at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and the University of Michigan suggests that people with a mental health condition received at least two prescriptions of opioids on an annual basis. The study was published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. The study examined the opioid prescription data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) between 2011 and 2013 and found 51 percent of prescription opioids are prescribed to individuals with depression, anxiety and other mental disorders. The other key findings are as follows: 51.4 percent of the 115 million opioid prescriptions written annually were given to individuals with depression and anxiety disorders. Of the 38.6 million diagnosed with a mental disorder, 7.2 million (around 19 percent) people with anxiety and depression took opioids. Compared to the 18.7 percent of individuals with mental disorders prescribed opioids, only 5 percent of individuals without a mental health condition were prescribed opioids. The study reflects the prevalence of the practice of prescribing opioids to individuals with mental disorders at higher doses and rates. However, this phenomenon may also be aggravated by chronic pain. Prior research suggests individuals with chronic pain are more vulnerable to the onset of mental health conditions. According to the CDC, an estimated one out of five patients with non-cancer pain or pain-related diagnoses is prescribed opioids in office-based settings. However, the prescribing rates of opioids have steadily increased between 2007 and 2012 to manage acute and chronic pain. In addition, primary care providers also account for about half of opioid pain relievers that are dispensed. The study exposes the vulnerability of patients with mental illnesses to opioid dependence and abuse. Moreover, it emphasizes the need to determine if the risks of prescribing opioids outweigh its therapeutic benefits. Seek treatment to address comorbid disorders Though as per the 2016 NSDUH report only 18.3 percent of the adult population suffered from AMI, they partake more than half of all opioids prescribed each year. This poses a major risk for overdose and other adverse opioid-related repercussions. Rather than the self-medication of pain, one should consult an expert for an effective solution. Popping pills for pain every now and then should be avoided to avert serious consequences on both mental and physical health.