New Research Regarding Opioid Use and Addiction After Surgery

Research presented at the Anesthesiology 2021 Annual Conference highlighted certain groups of people who were more at risk to become addicted to opioids after using them for the first time for post-op pain relief.  The group of people included those who smoke, who suffer from depression, and those with bipolar disorder or pulmonary hypertension. 

opioid addiction after surgery

Due to the highly addictive nature of opioids, these drugs are usually not prescribed in extremely high dosages or for extended periods of time.  In fact:

Researchers have found that taking opioid medications for more than a few days increases your risk of long-term use, which increases your risk of addiction. The odds you’ll still be on opioids a year after starting a short course increase after only five days on opioids. – Mayo Clinic

Some may think that if a person has never used any opioids that their chances of becoming addicted are a lot lower.  However, as this research points out, the “results reflect a much higher incidence of persistent opioid use than expected among opioid-naïve patients.”  It showed that one in five of these types of patients would still be using opioids three months after surgery.

With more than 100 million surgeries being performed in the U.S. every year, the chances of someone becoming addicted to opiates keeps increasing, especially within the high-risk group noted above.

The study’s lead author Gia Pittet, AuD, PhD notes that “the management of opioid administration during the postoperative period needs to extend well beyond the hospital stay, with better transfer of care to the primary care physician. Additionally, our findings identify which patients would most benefit from effective preoperative consultation and should be followed especially carefully after surgery.”

For more information on drug-free pain management solutions that don’t have the negative side effects like opioids, and that you can use post-operatively, click here.