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National Survey of Physicians Reveals Common Misperceptions Concerning Misuse and Abuse of Opioids in Light of New Government Statistics

Wed, 09/15/2010 - 9:32pm
Bio-Medicine.Org

BALTIMORE, Sept. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Findings from a new national survey, sponsored by the American Pain Foundation, reveal misperceptions among physicians regarding the misuse and abuse of opioids. The results come in light of government statistics to be released today looking at the broader U.S. population, showing 2009 rates of nonmedical use of these products nationwide.(1)

According to the survey of physicians, a majority (56%) believe that only a small number of their patients misuse or abuse opioids obtained from a prescription.(2) In addition, more than half (52%) believe that the majority of cases of opioid abuse do not involve tampering with the medication's delivery system.(2) However, other published data show that 80% of prescription medication abusers seeking treatment chew, snort or use intravenous administration of oral medicines to attain an immediate high.(3), (4)

While 2009 numbers will be released today,(1) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) statistics from 2008 show that 35 million Americans aged 12 and older reported nonmedical use of prescription opioids during his or her lifetime.(5)

"Results from both surveys illustrate the need for improved health care professional and public education about appropriate opioid prescribing and safe use to help encourage responsible pain management," stated Will Rowe, Chief Executive Officer of the American Pain Foundation, a co-sponsor of the survey. "With over 76.5 million Americans struggling with pain, alleviating pain remains a medical imperative; however, it must be balanced with measures to address the misuse and abuse of prescription pain medication."

Additional findings from the survey reveal that physicians are acutely aware of the dangers of opioid misuse and abuse, and that the majority (87%) agree that most recreational users obtain these products from a legitimate prescription.(2) However, 41% of physicians surveyed personally do no

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