A Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health survey of 1000 US primary care physicians found that many do not understand important facts about the addictive nature of the opioids they are prescribing or about how people become addicted to them. The study was published in The Clinical Journal of Pain.
“One-third of the doctors erroneously said they believed that most prescription drug abuse is by means other than swallowing the pills as intended,” stated a press release about the study, adding that, “Numerous studies have shown that the most common route by which drugs of abuse are administered is ingestion, followed by snorting and injection, with the percentage of those ingesting the drugs ranging from 64 percent to 97 percent, depending on the population studied.”
The study also reported that “nearly half of the internists, family physicians and general practitioners surveyed incorrectly thought that abuse-deterrent pills — such as those formulated with physical barriers to prevent their being crushed and snorted or injected — were actually less addictive than their standard counterparts. In fact, the pills are equally addictive.”
The authors further stated that 25% of physicians “reported being not at all or only slightly concerned about the potential for opioid diversion from the licit to the illicit market when this practice is in fact common at all levels of the pharmaceutical supply chain.”
Most of the physicians supported more clinical and regulatory control of opioids, however.
“Physicians and patients may mistakenly view these medicines as safe in one form and dangerous in another, but these products are addictive no matter how you take them,” the lead author said in the press release. “Doctors continue to overestimate the effectiveness of prescription pain medications and underestimate their risks, and that’s why we are facing such a public health crisis.”
Hwang, Catherine S., Lydia W. Turner, Stefan P. Kruszewski, Andrew Kolodny, and G. Caleb Alexander. “Primary Care Physicians’ Knowledge And Attitudes Regarding Prescription Opioid Abuse and Diversion:” The Clinical Journal of Pain, June 2015, 1. doi:10.1097/AJP.0000000000000268. (Abstract)
Many doctors misunderstand key facets of opioid abuse, study shows (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health press release on ScienceDaily, June 23, 2015)