Home Christian Lifestyle Healthy Living Depressed and Anxious Patients Receive More Than Half of All Opioid Prescriptions. by Dr Mercola

Depressed and Anxious Patients Receive More Than Half of All Opioid Prescriptions. by Dr Mercola

5 min read

According to Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids kill patients more frequently than any other medication used for nonfatal conditions.1 Back pain has been identified as one of the most common reasons for receiving a prescription for a narcotic pain reliever.2Disturbingly, more than half of all opioid prescriptions in the U.S. are given to patients suffering from anxiety and other mental health disorders.

The reason why is unclear, although it’s possible that depressed and anxious patients experience a greater degree of physical pain as well. Whatever the reason, when you consider the addictive potential of these drugs and the fragile mental state of people already struggling with mental health problems, the harm of this trend could be phenomenal indeed.

Data also reveals that women are increasingly being prescribed opioids during pregnancy and after delivery, creating addicts in the womb and destroying families by creating drug-dependent mothers and infants.

According to a recent survey,3 more than 1 in 5 Americans insured by Blue Cross and Blue Shield were prescribed an opioid in 2015. At that rate, you’re virtually guaranteed to receive a prescription for a narcotic at some point, provided you’re seeing a doctor. Your chances of developing a drug dependency is high as well. Insurance claims involving opioid dependence rose by nearly 500 percent between 2010 and 2016, Blue Cross and Blue Shield reports.

Over Half of Opioids Prescribed to Those With Mental Health Challenges

According to recent findings,4 doctors are far more likely to prescribe opioids to patients who are depressed or complain of anxiety than those who do not have any mental health issues. Depressed and anxious patients also receive higher dosages. Remarkably, nearly 19 percent of the 38.6 million Americans diagnosed with a mental health disorder use opioids.

For comparison, only 5 percent of the general population — people without a mental health disorder — use narcotic painkillers. As reported by Valley News:5

“Adults with depression and anxiety receive 51 percent of the … opioid prescriptions distributed each year in the U.S. … The higher rate of use of opioids among those with the two most common types of mental illness in the country holds true across all levels of pain and across different types of pain, including that stemming from cancer and arthritis …

‘Independent of pain and independent of medical conditions, having a mental health disorder is strongly associated with getting an opioid prescription, which is really, really concerning,’ Dr. Brian Sites, [an] anesthesiologist, said … The study did not determine what might be causing the increased rate of opioid prescriptions for those with mental health disorders, but it may indicate a problem in providers’ prescription practices, Sites said.


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