Post-surgical opioid prescription and risk of addiction

Post-surgical opioid prescription and risk of addiction

The opioid epidemic has taken a huge toll on lives of Americans affecting people across socio-cultural, financial and geographical demographics, and is only worsening. Primarily prescribed to treat chronic pain stemming from diseases like cancer or arthritis, prescription opioids are also given to patients following a surgery to lessen post-operative pain and facilitate recovery. Given the fact that prescription opioids can easily cause an addiction, many surgeons are unsure about how to tweak the prescribing patterns to cause minimal misuse and abuse.

To address this concern, the October issue of the medical journal, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) has published a review article. The authors have investigated how opioid addiction can take place during the perioperative care in case of plastic surgery. The team has  proposed a few recommendations for the surgeons to minimize the opioid-related damage.


Listed below are some of the recommendations suggested by the authors to improve opioid prescribing practices and manage its side effects:

1. All the patients scheduled for a surgery must be screened for the presence or absence of risk factors pertaining to opioid use disorder. These risk factors could be based on previous or an ongoing substance abuse, gender, low socioeconomic status, or diagnosis of a mental health disorder such as anxiety or depression.

2. Before prescribing opioids, a physician must talk in length to the patient about the potential harm of overusing the opioids. Patients must be encouraged to store them safely. In addition, they must also be given information about proper disposal of unused or expired opioids to prevent abuse by the family members or pets.

3. If the physician discovers that the patient has or had a substance abuse problem, then he or she should be referred to an addiction specialist before the surgical procedure commences. Subsequent to the surgery, the patient can be referred to a transitional pain service and an opioid weaning program with his/her permission.

4. A plastic surgeon must have a word with the patient’s primary care physician about the possible risk of an opioid addiction and design the course of action accordingly.

5. A plastic surgeon should consider using a combination of anesthesia techniques and prescribe non-opioid medications post-surgery. Utilizing non-addictive treatment approaches should be targeted at holistic recovery.

Free yourself from the clutches of prescription opioid addiction

Although they cannot alleviate the problem of opioid addiction entirely on their own, plastic surgeons can bring about a significant shift in the pattern of opioid prescribing practices in the perioperative period. Interacting at length with a patient, and his or her primary care physician and other specialists from the department of anesthesia and pain management, they can bring about a radical change in the way opioids are prescribed. However, if someone develops an addiction after a surgery, he or she must be referred to an addiction therapist immediately.

If you or your loved one is struggling with an opioid addiction, contact the Florida Prescription Addiction Helpline for immediate help. Call us at our 24/7 helpline 866-292-3211 to know about the drug treatment centers in Florida offering holistic recovery programs that can help a person regain control of his or her life. You may also chat with one of our online representatives to seek expert advice on some of the finest prescription drug rehab centers in Florida.