Sep 26, 2018 | Updated: 04:34 PM EDT

Drug Overdose Victims Can Still Get Opioids

Jan 08, 2016 12:47 AM EST

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Over the past few months, the number of drug overdose cases in the United States has grown to a very alarming level. Recently, a new study is released revealing that those drug overdose victims could still buy opioids. 

After examining a nationwide database of insurance claims, Dr. Marc LaRochelle of Boston Medical Center and his team of researchers found out that over 91 percent of people who previously overdosed on prescribed opioid pain killers can still acquire the same type of drugs.

The study started by looking at 2,848 cases of patients whose ages range from 18 to 64 and had previously gone through a non-fatal drug overdose incident. Some of the cases involved in the team's study were serious enough to cause the patient to end up in an emergency room or be admitted so doctors can monitor their each move. 

The researchers then found out that out of these numbers, 91 percent of the patients have continued to accept the addictive opioids. What's more alarming is that 70 percent of them were prescribed the same amount of drug that they have initially overdosed on.

The age average of the participants for the study is 44, and 60 percent of the entire group is composed of women. Forty-six percent of them reported that they regularly take a large amount of painkillers, while another 41 percent were reported to have gone through a drug addiction disorder. After receiving this bit of information, the researchers wanted to find out if these particular patients were still given drugs even though they had previously overdosed on them. And the results they got were positive.

The study also noted that after 2 years, those who continued to get opioid painkillers even though they have a history of drug abuse were twice likely to have another overdose compared to those who stopped taking them after the first incident took place. The researchers stated that the possible reason for the continuous prescription of the addictive drugs can be attributed to the fact that most prescribers weren't aware that an overdose incident had already taken place prior to the visit of the patient.

While in a recent interview at CBS News, Dr. Larochelle stated the importance of having a policy and system procedures in order to identify those patients who will have problems of controlling themselves around the said drugs and those who have already abused them. He added that because of these recent events, it is now hard to identify those who benefit from it and those who misuse and abuse it.

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