While a lot of people resort to taking opioids for pain, a new study has shed light on the alarming effects of discontinuing it.
Patients coming off opioids for pain were three times more likely to die of an overdose in the years that followed, the study published in the journal 'General Internal Medicine' has found.
Lead author Jocelyn James from the University Of Washington School Of Medicine said, "We are worried by these results because they suggest that the policy recommendations intended to make opioid prescribing safer are not working as intended."
While reduced prescribing may well be intended to improve patient safety, little is known about the real-world benefits or risks of this change in opioid prescribing.
In order to understand better, the researchers gathered a group of 572 patients with chronic pain enrolled in an opioid registry.
Chronic opioid therapy was discontinued in 344 patients and 187 continued to visit a primary care clinic. During the time period, 119 registry patients died (20.8 per cent); 21 patients died of a definitive or possible overdose - 17 were discontinued patients and four were patients being seen at a clinic.
After the study, researchers concluded that "discontinuing chronic opioid therapy was associated with increased risk of death."