Pre-operative screening for narcotics and drug use is one of the many facets to the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) Program and others similar to it. Typically, patients being treated for chronic pain with opioids are the focus, but a new study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, says more patients could make up this category.
Boston University Medical Center released a study that found many chronic pain patients are self-medicating with alcohol and drugs – many times illegal drugs. When researchers screened patients, they found 87 percent of the patients who used illegal drugs, misused prescriptions or drank heavily were trying to alleviate chronic pain.
Study author Daniel Alford, MD, MPH, said: “While the association between chronic pain and drug addiction has been observed in prior studies, this study goes one step further to quantify how many of these patients are using these substances specifically to treat chronic pain. It also measures the prevalence of chronic pain in patients who screen positive for illegal drug use and prescription drug abuse.”
The current recommendations by ERAS and other programs include screening for all drug use – including illegal and prescription misuse, but this study reiterates how important it is to question patients and find the best pain management system for the individual.