Addictions: Problems with prescription opioids

By on November 1, 2019

The Center for Disease Control recognizes some confusion about the safety of prescription opioids. They have written this piece in an effort to clarify the issues.

Prescription options
Prescription options can be used to treat moderate-to-severe pain and are often prescribed following surgery or injury, or for health conditions such as cancer. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the acceptance and use of prescription options for the treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain, such as back pain or osteoarthritis, despite serious risks and the lack of evidence about their long-term effectiveness.

When the prescription becomes the problem
• More than 191 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed to American patients in 2017—with wide variation across states.
• There is a wide variation of opioid prescription rates across states. Health care providers in the highest prescribing state, Alabama, wrote almost three times as many of these prescriptions per person as those in the lowest prescribing state, Hawaii.
• Studies suggest that regional variation in use of prescription options cannot be explained by the underlying health status of the population.
The most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths include:
• Methadone
• Oxycodone (such as OxyContin®)
• Hydrocodone (such as Vicodin®)3
To reverse this epidemic, we need to improve the way we treat pain. We must prevent abuse, addiction, and overdose before they start.

Addiction and Overdose
Anyone who takes prescription options can become addicted to them. In fact, as many as one in four patients receiving long-term opioid therapy in a primary care setting struggles with opioid addiction.,5,6 Once addicted, it can be hard to stop. In 2016, more than 11.5 million Americans reported misusing prescription options in the past year.

Side effects
In addition to the serious risks of addiction, abuse, and overdose, the use of prescription options can have a number of side effects, even when taken as directed:
• Tolerance—meaning you might need to take more of the medication for the same pain relief
• Physical dependence—meaning you have symptoms of withdrawal when the medication is stopped
• Increased sensitivity to pain
• Constipation
• Nausea, vomiting, and dry mouth
• Sleepiness and dizziness
• Confusion
• Depression
• Low levels of testosterone that can result in lower sex drive, energy, and strength
• Itching and sweating

Risk Factors for Prescription Opioid Abuse and Overdose
Risk factors for prescription opioid pain reliever abuse and overdose: obtaining overlapping prescriptions from multiple providers and pharmacies, taking high daily dosages of prescription opioid pain relievers, having mental illness or a history of alcohol or other substance abuse, living in rural areas and having low income. Research shows that some risk factors make people particularly vulnerable to prescription opioid abuse and overdose, including:
• Obtaining overlapping prescriptions from multiple providers and pharmacies.,8,9,10
• Taking high daily dosages of prescription pain relievers.,11,12,13
• Having mental illness or a history of alcohol or other substance abuse.
• Living in rural areas and having low income.

Medicaid Patients
Inappropriate prescribing practices and opioid prescribing rates are substantially higher among Medicaid patients than among privately insured patients.

In one study based on 2010 data, 40% of Medicaid enrollees with prescriptions for pain relievers had at least one indicator of potentially inappropriate use or prescribing:
• overlapping prescriptions for pain relievers,
• overlapping pain reliever and benzodiazepine prescriptions,
• long-acting or extended release prescription pain relievers for acute pain, and
• high daily doses.

Taking too many prescription options can stop a person’s breathing—leading to death.
Prescription opioid overdose deaths also often involve benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants used to sedate, induce sleep, prevent seizures, and relieve anxiety. Examples include alprazolam (Xanax®), diazepam (Valium®), and lorazepam (Ativan®). Avoid taking benzodiazepines while taking prescription options whenever possible.


Jo Ann Hummers, EdD, is a Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist. She has a private practice at the Nags Head Professional Center. Her work includes DWI assessments and treatment, smoking cessation sessions, and treatment for gambling and other addictions.

Dare County Animal Shelter

Sealed bids for completion of the Dare County Animal Shelter will be received on February 11, 2020, in the Dare County Administration Building, 954 Marshall C. Collins Drive, Manteo, NC, for 01-Fencing, 03- Concrete, 04-Masonry, 05-Metals/ Steel, 06-Casework, 07-Roofing, 07-Caulking, 08-Glass and Glazing, 08-Doors, Frames and Hardware, 08-Overhead Doors, 09-Drywall, 09-Flooring, 09-Painting, 10- Specialties, 12-Furnishings, 21-Fire Protection, 23-Mechanical & Plumbing, 26-Electrical, 31-Sitework and 32-Landscaping.

This project will be bid and awarded in accordance with North Carolina law. Sealed proposals from Contractors will be received until 1:00 p.m. All bidders must submit for prequalification by 2:00pm on 2/3/2020. Bids submitted by non-prequalified bidders will not be considered. All bids will be opened and read aloud starting at 2:00 p.m. of the bid day. Bids must be delivered in person and on the supplied Bid Form and include a bid deposit worth 5% of the total bid value. Electronic and faxed bids will NOT be accepted or reviewed. All times are local prevailing times.

Information requests concerning the project shall be submitted in writing to: Alex Palagyi of The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company via email (

Bidding material, prequalification material, and complete plans and specifications may be obtained from the Whiting-Turner Building Connected site and will be available until the bid due date. All subcontractors are responsible for emailing Alex Palagyi ( for access to the Building Connected site.

The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company and Dare County reserve the right to reject any and all bids, waive informalities and irregularities in bidding, and to accept bids which are considered to be in the best interest of the County. The Whiting Turner Contracting Company and Dare County also reserve the right to require any bidder to submit information needed to determine if said bidder is responsible within the meaning of N.C. Gen. Stat. 143-129.

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