ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – A new survey from Mayo clinic finds nearly all Americans would choose an alternative medicine to opioid pain relievers after surgery, but only a few patients are actually talking to their doctors about it.
The Mayo Clinic National Health Checkup shows the rate of patients preferring an alternative treatment is 94%. They cited fear of addiction as their top reason.
“I’m sure that when patients come in, sometimes it feels that your physician or provider is busy, and they’ve only got so much time to meet with you,” said Dr. Halena Gazelka, Chair of Mayo Clinic’s Opioid Stewardship Program. “And if they tell you this is the medication that you should take after your surgery or after your procedure, you accept that.I also think providers may be don’t understand the fears that patients have surrounding taking opioids.”
The latest CDC numbers show 72,000 Americans mistakenly think opioids are meant to treat chronic pain, when they’re actually intended for short term pain.
“We expect it to last for a brief period of time. They had a surgical procedure, they had an injury, they had an illness that caused pain and they’re going to recover from that and be able to get off of those medicines,” said Dr. Gazelka. “Patients with chronic pain, however, are often dealing with their pain for years. And we know that for many types of chronic pain, opioids really are not the best solution. And I think that the perception that opioids were meant for people to take for a long time for pain, is one that we have to change.”
Another CDC finding shows rural areas are affected by the epidemic more than urban areas, with deaths there quadrupling between 1999 and 2015.
On top of that, the Mayo study found most people did not know about proper disposal methods for opioids. Just one in four patients said their doctor or pharmacist gave them directions on what to do with any remaining pills.