Scott Weiner, MD
Posts by Scott Weiner, MD
Between 1959 and 2014, average life expectancy in the United States rose astoundingly by nearly a decade. Then it began declining. A recent report examining this situation raises tough questions about that unexpected change.
One of the roots of the opioid crisis in the US is how frequently the medications are prescribed. There are times when a prescription opioid is called for, but in many cases an over-the-counter pain medication is very effective.
The CDC’s 2016 Guideline on Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain was created to help providers and patients manage medication treatment at safe levels and avoid dependence. Any plan to taper medication dosage should be personalized to the patient’s needs.
The Surgeon General has issued an advisory recommending that people carry and know how to use naloxone, and although it is an effective treatment for overdose, it does not address the larger issues around the opioid crisis.
An analysis of overdose deaths in the United States from 2000 to 2015 showed differences in death rates between racial and ethnic groups, and serves as a reminder that different parts of the population have been affected by the opioid epidemic in different ways, and treatment initiatives should reflect these variables.
A person who receives naloxone for an overdose is typically observed for several hours in a hospital’s emergency department and then discharged, but what happens to them after that? ED staff at a Boston hospital studied the survival rate for these patients.
The opioid epidemic has had a devastating effect on lives. There are many factors behind this crisis, some of which may be surprising. A reasonable and well-intentioned effort to reduce and relieve pain can inadvertently lead to a potentially life-threatening addiction, but there are some surprisingly simple ways to avoid such scenarios.
The scope of the opioid crisis in the US has led some individuals and communities to revise their view of addiction and substance use disorders. One idea being considered is creating supervised injection facilities that would provide a safe environment and make treatment resources available to those who want them.
With opioid addiction such a serious problem, new research indicates that some doctors are more likely to prescribe opioids to their patients than others, and those patients are more likely to end up taking these medications long term. That means it is crucial for consumers to educate themselves about the risks of taking opiates, and to consider alternative medications and treatments if possible.