More on Opiates: Are Disabled Particularly Vulnerable?

The steep rise of prescription opiate drugs in the U.S. may be affecting the disabled at greater levels than the general population.

An interesting paper for the state’s Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, by doctors
Daniel J. Nordlund and David Mancuso and Barbara Felver found that “a significant number of aged, blind, or disabled clients receive large volumes of opiates from multiple prescribing providers.”

For the Kitsap Sun’s special project on prescription opiates, click here.

Below are some highlights of what they found:

“A significant number of aged, blind, or disabled clients receive large volumes of
opiates from multiple prescribing providers. In Fiscal Year 2002,
at least 2,155 aged, blind, or disabled clients received a total of 366 or more
days of opiates prescribed by at least three different providers.”

“It is a concern that many aged, blind, or disabled clients who receive large
volumes of opiates have a clear indication of drug addiction in their medical
record (diagnoses of drug abuse, dependence, or drug-induced psychosis).
Clients with headaches, poisonings, tobacco abuse, sprains, strains, and
superficial injuries receive large volumes of opiates and are frequent ER
visitors. These conditions may signal increased risk of opiate addiction.”

“By comparison, clients who have cancer, HIV/AIDS, arthritis, and diseases of
the spine also receive large volumes of opiates, but are less frequent ER
visitors. Although some of these clients have indications of drug addiction, opiate
use patterns among these clients appear to be more appropriate.”

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