One-fourth of doctors not confident they can safely get patients off opioids

While 86% of physicians agreed that helping people get off of opioids is a fundamental part of stopping the country’s epidemic, a quarter of them say they aren’t confident they can safely get patients off the addictive drugs.

Some 80% of physicians say there is a lack of education about how to help their patients stop taking opioid painkillers, according to a new national survey from US WorldMeds that asked both doctors and consumers about barriers to ending the opioid crisis.

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Both agreed a lack of education around how to discontinue opioids is a huge barrier to the epidemic which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says has resulted in the deaths of more than 200,000 Americans from prescription opioid overdoses since the addiction crisis began in the late 1990s.

According to the survey, 86% of physicians and 88% of the American public agree that helping people get off of opioids should be a fundamental part of addressing America’s opioid crisis. However, nearly a quarter of physicians are not confident they can safely get patients off of opioids.

Some 76% of physicians say that fear of opioid withdrawal is keeping patients from getting off of opioids.

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The survey conducted in June included 500 physicians and 1,100 U.S. adults. “Physicians and patients are overwhelmingly asking for more education around stopping opioids,” said P. Breckinridge Jones, CEO and founder of US WorldMeds, a specialty pharmaceutical company based in Louisville, Kentucky.

Both the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration earlier this year warned prescribers that abruptly cutting off high-dose patients or tapering their doses of opioids too rapidly could cause withdrawal and even suicide.

Infographic about opioids