Wednesday, April 28, 2021 (Kaiser News) – Covid survivors are at risk of a possible second pandemic, this time of opioid addiction, given the high rate of painkillers being prescribed to them. patients, according to health experts.
A new study in Nature found alarmingly high rates of opioid use among covid survivors with persistent symptoms at Veterans Health Administration facilities. About 10% of covid survivors develop a “long covid,” which struggles with often disabling health problems even six months or more after diagnosis.
For every 1,000 patients with long covides, known as “long carriers,” who were treated at a Veterans Affairs Center, doctors wrote nine more opioid prescriptions than they would have, along with 22 additional prescriptions. of benzodiazepines, which include Xanax and other addictive pills used to treat anxiety.
Although previous studies have found that many covetous survivors experience persistent health problems, the new article is the first to show that they use more addictive drugs, said Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, lead author of the paper.
He is concerned that even a seemingly small increase in the inappropriate use of addictive pain pills will lead to a resurgence of the prescription opioid crisis, given the large number of covid survivors. More than 3 million of the 31 million Americans infected with covid develop long-term symptoms, which can include fatigue, shortness of breath, depression, anxiety, and memory problems known as “brain fog.”
The new study also found that many patients presented with significant muscle and bone pain.
Frequent use of opioids was surprising, given concerns about its addictive potential, said Al-Aly, head of VA St. Louis’ research and education service. Louis Health Care System.
“Doctors are now supposed to shun prescription opioids,” said Al-Aly, who studied more than 73,000 patients in the VA system. When Al-Aly saw the number of opioid prescriptions, he said to himself, “Is this really happening again?”
Doctors must act now, before “it is too late to do anything,” Al-Aly said. “We need to act now and ensure that people get the care they need. We don’t want this to turn into a suicide crisis or another opioid epidemic.”