Bisher AKIL, MD

Will This Make Me an Addict?

In General Health, Uncategorized on November 22, 2019 at 4:24 pm

The risk of addiction after a short course of opioids for acute pain is poorly understood. To quantify the risk of ongoing opioid use after a single prescription in the emergency department (ED), researchers prospectively enrolled adult opioid-naive patients with new-onset acute pain who were prescribed an opioid and discharged from the ED. Follow-up was performed at 6 months via telephone call, chart review, and review of a statewide prescription database. Among 484 patients enrolled at two EDs, average age was 46 years and the median pain duration was 2 days. Most patients (88%) were low risk for opioid misuse based on the Opioid Risk Tool. Oxycodone-acetaminophen was the most common opioid prescription (77%). Overall, 102 patients (21%) filled at least one additional opioid prescription within 6 months (the primary outcome). “Persistent opioid use,” defined as at least six prescriptions during the 6-month follow up, occurred in five patients (1%). Of patients with persistent opioid use, prescription frequency decreased over the 6-month follow up period.

Citation:  Friedman BW et al. Opioid use during the six months after an emergency department visit for acute pain: A prospective cohort study. Ann Emerg Med 2019 Nov 1; [e-pub]. (


Summary appeared in NEJM- Journal Watch

Comments: This question comes up quite often; patients may even endure pain for fear of  potential addiction; here is a good, but not great, answer; still 1% met the authors’ definition of persistent opioid use. Patients’ awareness and physician watchful attention are needed to make this practice lower- BA

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