Does prescription opioid use by one household member increase risk of prescribed use in others?
Millions of opioid prescriptions are dispensed each year in the United States and unused opioids stored in household medicine cabinets are opportunities for drug sharing. However, whether prescription opioid use by one household member is associated with prescription opioid use in other household members is unknown.
This is an observational study. Researchers are not intervening for purposes of the study and cannot control natural differences that could explain study findings.
The one-year risk of prescription opioid use was an absolute 0.71 percent higher among people in households where another person had an opioid prescription compared with households with an NSAID prescription, the researchers have concluded.
The study limitation noted by the researchers was that increase in risk of opioid use was small, and factors the researchers did not or could not measure might explain it.
In the end, the study concludes that living in a household with a prescription opioid user may increase risk of prescription opioid use. Opioid prescribing decisions may need to consider the context within which the medications will be used and the potential risk of subsequent opioid initiation by other people in a household.
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