Some Surgeries Create Increased Risk for Opioid Addiction

Over-Prescribing by Doctors Also a Factor 

Some people who become addicted to opioid pain relievers begin taking the drugs out of need after painful surgeries. In addition, over-prescribing by doctors is a factor as well.

In a report in the New York Daily News, the combination of surgeries and prescriptions for opioids handed out by doctors to their patients in 2016 led to a surplus of 3.3 billion unused pills a likely factor in the current American opioid epidemic. 

Research shows that some surgeries carry a bigger risk for eventual opioid addiction than others. Colectomy was the most dangerous with 18 percent of patients becoming long-term users. A close second was the 17 percent of knee replacement patients who took the drugs. Hernia and hysterectomy surgeries showed to be lower risk with about a 7 percent risk of misuse each. Women, overall, showed to be particularly vulnerable. 

A study from last year, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, backs up this data. It defined chronic opioid users as those who fill 10 or more prescriptions after a few months have passed since their surgeries. The study did not analyze colectomies but saw that knee replacement and open gallbladder surgical patients had the highest risk for developing opioid addictions.

Some might blame doctors as the root cause of addiction through excessive prescription writing, but post-op pain is real and doctors are required by law to compassionately treat their patients for their pain. 

Photo: Hamza Butt Doctor via Flickr