A new study looks at which patients prescribed a short course of narcotic painkillers may be most prone to long-term abuse.
The study finds — perhaps not surprisingly — that people with prior histories of drug abuse, or current or former smokers, were much more likely to go beyond that short-term prescription.
The drugs in question are “opioid” painkillers such as oxycodone (Oxycontin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), codeine and methadone, among others.
The study was led by Dr. W. Michael Hooten, an anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. His team tracked outcomes for nearly 300 patients given a first-time, short-term prescription for one of this class of narcotic painkillers in 2009.
The investigators found that nearly one in every four of the patients continued to take the medication for extended periods of time.