John M. Talmadge, M.D.

A Blog Covering Many Topics

Pain Pill Abuse Really Kills

We hear stories almost daily about the crisis involving addiction to pain pills. The numbers are as astonishing as they are alarming. The bottom line: people who abuse opiates (hydrocodone, Vicodin, Oxycodone, oxycontin, and similar pain killers) are ten times more likely to die than non-addicted patients.

According to an article in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, individuals with opioid use disorder receiving care in a university health system were ten times more likely to die, indicating significant room for improvement in identification and treatment of opioid use disorders in large health care systems.

“The high rates of death among patients with opioid use disorder in a general health care system reported in this study suggest we need strategies to improve detection and treatment of this disorder in primary care settings,” Yih-Ing Hser, PhD, of the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a press release.

"My original thinking was that the mortality rate could not be very high in the general healthcare setting because general healthcare centers are supposed to have more comprehensive health services, and most people are insured. But when I saw such a high mortality rate, I was shocked," lead investigator Yih-Ing Hser, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, told Medscape Medical News.