Youth Opioid Poisonings Up 165%; Novus Medical Detox Center Alerts Public to Leftover Painkillers

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New studies indicate 100 million prescription opioid pills remain unused after oral surgery; meanwhile, pediatric opioid poisonings have risen substantially. Novus Medical Detox Center warns parents of risks, urging proper disposal of unused pills.

Kent Runyon, Compliance Officer and VP of Community Relations for Novus Medical Detox Center, issues warning to properly dispose leftover painkillers

Saving unused opioid pills after surgery increases the likelihood that children or others will obtain and use the drugs, whether accidentally, for recreational purposes or with intent to self-harm.

Newly published research reveals that dental surgery patients who are prescribed opioid pain relievers use less than half the pills they are prescribed.(1) Another recent study found that opioid poisonings among children and adolescents more than doubled over a 16-year period.(2) Novus Medical Detox Center, a leading Florida-based drug treatment facility, warns that leftover painkillers can be dangerous if they fall into the wrong hands, and shares advice for proper disposal of unused opioid pills.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania determined that 54% of opioids prescribed to patients after a surgical tooth extraction, such as removal of impacted wisdom teeth, remained unused three weeks after surgery.(1) Extrapolating their findings to the U.S. population, they estimate more than 100 million unused opioid pills are left over from these types of surgeries each year, “leaving the door open for possible abuse or misuse by patients, or their friends or family.”(3) Studies have suggested up to 23% of prescription opioid doses are used non-medically, and dentists prescribe approximately 12% of all immediate-release opioids.(4)

Another study conducted by the Yale School of Medicine found a significant increase in the rate of pediatric hospitalizations for prescription opioid poisonings. From 1997 to 2012, the annual incidence per 100,000 children rose 165%, from 1.40 to 3.71. The greatest increases were among children aged 1 to 4, climbing from .86 to 2.62 (a 205% increase), and among adolescents aged 15 to 19, surging from 3.69 to 10.17—a 176% increase.(2)

“The latest study findings suggest that leftover prescription painkillers may be a key contributor to the current opioid epidemic and related hospitalizations,” observed Kent Runyon, Compliance Officer and Vice President of Community Relations for Novus Medical Detox Center. “While it’s good that most patients stopped taking opioid analgesics as soon as they could manage their pain without them, those unused pills can pose a serious hazard if they are not disposed of properly.”

Nearly 54% of those who engage in nonmedical use of pain relievers obtained the drugs from a friend or family member.(5) In less than a decade, inpatient hospitalizations for opioid dependence, abuse and overdose have increased 2-fold for young adults and 5-fold for those aged 45 and older.(2) While researchers have attributed the rise in opioid-related admissions among young children primarily to accidental poisonings, the majority of opioid overdoses among adolescents aged 15 to 19 were due to suicide attempts or self-inflicted injury.(2)

“Prescription medication should always be safely locked away, particularly when there are children at home,” counsels Runyon. “Saving unused opioid pills after surgery increases the likelihood that children or others will obtain and use the drugs, whether accidentally, for recreational purposes or with intent to self-harm.”

Runyon urges anyone prescribed opioids to review the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines for safe disposal of unused medicines. He advises patients to dispose of unwanted medication via an authorized collection center or take-back program, or to use a drug disposal product such as Deterra or Medsaway bags, which neutralize medications so they can be safely disposed of with household trash. Alternately, the FDA lists medications that can be safely flushed down the sink or toilet. In addition, prescription labels should be scratched out or destroyed to prevent others from using that information to obtain a refill.

Novus offers medically supervised drug detox programs that help minimize the pain and discomfort of opioid withdrawal. The Florida detox facility provides customized treatment plans based on proven medical protocols, including 24-hour access to nursing care and withdrawal specialists. Novus is acclaimed for its expertise in treating high-dose methadone cases, and is proficient in detoxing patients from other high-dose opioids just as safely, comfortably and effectively.

For more information on Novus Medical Detox Center and its prescription opioid treatment programs, visit http://www.novusdetox.com.

About Novus Medical Detox Center:
Novus Medical Detox Center has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Behavioral Health Care Accreditation as an inpatient medical detox facility. Licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, Novus provides safe, effective alcohol and drug treatment programs that are based on proven medical protocols and designed to minimize the discomfort of withdrawal. The facility is located on 3.25 acres in New Port Richey, Florida, in a tranquil, spa-like setting bordering protected conservation land. Intent on proving that detox doesn’t have to be painful or degrading, Novus set out to transform the industry by bringing humanity into medical detox with individually customized treatment programs and 24/7 access to nursing care and withdrawal specialists. Today, Novus is renowned as a champion of industry standardization and a staunch advocate of patients fighting to overcome substance use disorders. Frequently recognized for its contributions to the industry and local community, Novus has become a regular source to media publications such as The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and has ranked in the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Fast 50, the Florida Business Journal’s Top 500 and the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing companies. For more information on Novus’ medically supervised detox programs, visit http://novusdetox.com.

1.    Maughan, Brandon C.; Elliot V. Hersh; et al. “Unused Opioid Analgesics and Drug Disposal Following Outpatient Dental Surgery: A Randomized Controlled Trial”; Drug and Alcohol Dependence; November 1, 2016. drugandalcoholdependence.com/article/S0376-8716(16)30256-3/abstract

2.    Gaither, Julie R.; John M. Leventhal; et al. “National Trends in Hospitalizations for Opioid Poisonings Among Children and Adolescents, 1997 to 2012”; JAMA Pediatrics; October 31, 2016. jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2571466

3.    Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. “100 Million Prescription Opioids Go Unused Each Year Following Wisdom Teeth Removal”; Penn Medicine News; September 22, 2016. pennmedicine.org/news/news-releases/2016/september/100-million-prescription-opioi

4.    Denisco, Richard C.; George A. Kenna; et al. “Prevention of Prescription Opioid Abuse: The Role of the Dentist”; JADA; July 2011. jada.ada.org/article/S0002-8177(14)62264-9/fulltext

5.    Hughes, Arthur; Matthew R. Williams; et al. “Prescription Drug Use and Misuse in the United States”; NSDUH Data Review; September 2016. samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FFR2-2015/NSDUH-FFR2-2015.htm

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