Will doctor/patient discussion help reduce risk of prescription opioid addiction?

To combat increasing rates of drug and opioid addiction, New Jersey has enacted a new law designed to influence the initial prescription of prescription pain medications. 

This new law requires that an initial prescription for opioid painkillers last no more than five days, and that the providing prescriber talk with the patient about the risk of pain medication addiction and alternative treatment options. 

The need for this type of action is supported by a recent Mott Poll on this topic, which found that among parents whose children had been prescribed pain medication,

  • Half reported their children had leftover medication – indicating that the amount prescribed was greater than what was needed.
  • While 64% of parents reported the provider talked with them about when to cut down on pain medication, only 33% said the provider discussed what to do with any leftover medication.
  • 47% said they kept the leftover medication at home, where it could be misused by teens or other family members
  • Parents whose child’s provider discussed what to do with leftover pain medication were significantly less likely to keep the leftover medication at home, compared to parents who did not discuss this topic with the provider

The New Jersey law emphasizes the need for discussion between doctors and patients to promote the appropriate use of narcotic pain medication. It is essential to include parents and teens in this effort.

Proportion of parents who kept child's leftover pain medication at home

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PARENTS: If your child needs pain medication, talk with the provider about:

  • Non-narcotic options
  • The reason for amount of medication prescribed
  • What to do with leftover medication