Most patients who are prescribed opioids after surgery don’t take all of the prescribed pills, leaving leftover opioids that could be used inappropriately, a new review of studies finds.
Between 67 percent and 92 percent of the patients included in the review reported that, after a surgical procedure, they had unused opioids left over from a prescription. In addition, more than 70 percent of the patients in the review said they stored the leftover drugs in an unlocked location, such as a medicine cabinet, according to the review, published today (Aug. 2) in the journal JAMA Surgery.
An estimated 3.8 million Americans use opioids improperly each month, according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual survey on drug use. And more than half of the people who misused the drugs said they got the pills from a friend or relative in at least one of the following ways: They were given the pills for free, they paid for them or they took them without asking, according to the review.