Study sheds light on opioid epidemic

Study sheds light on opioid epidemic
Story: KFDA
Story: KFDA
Story: KFDA
Story: KFDA

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Two professors at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center of Amarillo have released a study they say sheds light America's opioid epidemic.

"With the opioid epidemic more prevalent and more in the news we felt like there were some things we could to do to try to help make some changes," said Jeanie Jaramillo-Stamez, one of the professors who made the study.

She says she saw an opportunity to do research using the medication collected by their drug take back events, which they host to give Amarillo residents the chance to discard old medication.

After five years of data collection and 10,000 prescriptions collected -- they found almost half of them were opioids.

"We are receiving more then half than what they were actually prescribed," she said. "That indicates they are receiving or being prescribed more than they actually need."

One reason doctors might be over prescribing may be because patients are required to make another visit to the doctor every time they need a refill.

"The patients can't call the office to ask the nurse to call a prescription in, for instance," Jaramillo-Stamez said. "What they would have to do is come in and be seen by the physician again."

Thomas Martin, Director of Texas Panhandle Poison Center says this may be the reason controlled substance medications are being over prescribed.

"They try to make it easier on themselves and the patients. And make it cheaper, and they prescribe a larger prescription in the beginning so its less likely for them to ask for a refill," said Martin.

Jaramillo-Stamez says the amount of pain medications prescribed to a patient should depend on the need.

"In many cases people need something relatively strong, but then usually after a minor procedure people don't need it for more then two days," Jaramillo-Stamez said. "We are giving them enough for two weeks or even a month."

She says next time you are prescribed pain medication, ask your doctor to give you a small one.

"When we look at the big picture the second co-pay is very minimal, if you compare that to having a teen or young adult that's addicted to opioids."

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