Physician Survey Reveals Misperception on Rx Misuse and Abuse

September 16, 2010

A survey of physicians reveals that misperceptions regarding the misuse and abuse of opioids are widespread.

A survey of physicians reveals that misperceptions regarding the misuse and abuse of opioids are widespread.

The survey was sponsored by the American Pain Foundation and found that 56% of physicians believe only a small number of their patients misuse or abuse prescription opioids. Additionally, 52% believe that the majority of cases of opioid abuse do not involve tampering with the medication’s delivery system. Previous research demonstrates that 80% of prescription medication abusers seeking treatment chew, snort, or use intravenous administration of oral medications to achieve an immediate high.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration statistics released today, Sept. 16, reveal that the use of illicit drugs among Americans increased between 2008 and 2009. “The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows the overall rate of current illicit drug use in the United States rose from 0.8 percent of the population ages 12 and older in 2008 to 8.7 percent in 2009.” The study demonstrated this increase was “driven in large part by increases in marijuana use.”

In 2009, the NSDUH study revealed in 2008 35 million Americans ages 12 and older reported nonmedical use of prescription opioids during his or her lifetime.

The co-sponsored American Pain Foundation survey of physicians found that physicians are acutely aware of the dangers of opioid misuse and abuse. The majority also agree that most recreational users obtain the products from a legitimate prescription, but only 41% surveyed said they personally do not take steps to prevent the misuse and abuse of opioids in their own homes.

“These survey results highlight common misunderstandings about these medications, which can be addressed in the health care provider’s office.” Rowe said, in a press release. “By initiating an open dialogue about responsible pain management before and throughout the course of treatment, both clinicians and their patients can become part of the solution to this public health issue.”

The American Pain Foundation recommended that certain key issues should be discussed, including: proper dosing, storage and disposal of prescription, and the consideration of new treatment options.