When a woman has to do a ‘special’ job at home to survive
Nursing home workers in the United States are on the front lines of the war against opioid addiction.
Now, a new study by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) suggests that many of them are suffering from the same debilitating pain that many first responders have to deal with: opioid withdrawal.
The study examined data from more than 50,000 people over the past four decades.
The findings show that nearly two-thirds of people in nursing homes experienced opioid-related withdrawal symptoms, with almost two-fifths of those experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms.
“I was shocked,” said Dr. Jill Steinberg, a researcher at ACEP who was not involved in the study.
“It’s not surprising that some of them feel they need to do things that can actually hurt their health.”
When the study looked at the number of people with opioid-specific withdrawal symptoms in nursing home settings, the number jumped to nearly two dozen per 100,000, a number that is similar to the prevalence in the general population.
In some cases, the numbers were far higher.
For example, the ACEP found that among the people with a history of opioid-associated withdrawal symptoms at the time of the study, more than 30 percent of them had had at least one other episode of opioid withdrawal, which included one or more of the following symptoms: dizziness, nausea, abdominal pain, confusion, anxiety, or confusion or hallucinations.
This may explain why people are taking the drugs to cope with the withdrawal symptoms that often accompany the opioid addiction, Steinberg said.
“When you have a chronic condition like chronic pain, you can’t stop using opioids for long periods of time, and it’s a really difficult condition to manage,” she said.
The opioid-dependent nurse is the first person in the world to study this type of recovery.
Steinberg and her colleagues believe the findings are important because they could be the foundation for a better understanding of the condition and how it can be managed.
The authors of the ACPE study believe it is a great step forward in the field of recovery and are now hoping to expand the study to other settings.
For instance, Steinbeck said, if the ACEPS has a patient in another state who has been in a nursing home for four years, it would be very helpful to be able to see their pain levels, which would give the researchers the data they need.
“We really want to understand this condition, and I think we’ll be able, from the research we do, to be better able to predict and respond appropriately to patients with this type [of] illness,” she told ABC News.
Dr. Michael D. Ochsner, director of the division of emergency medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, said the ACP study is “an important step in the right direction” in understanding the condition.
“The research we’re seeing is encouraging,” he said.
The ACEP study shows that some people who are on opioids are more likely to experience other symptoms of opioid addiction than the general public.
But Ochsdorf said the research is still in its early stages.
“This study is just one of many studies to be done in the next few years,” he added.
Dr Ochschner, who has studied the issue of chronic pain for decades, said he was surprised to see so many people in his own practice who were suffering from chronic pain.
“I can’t say I’m surprised at all,” he told ABC.
“There are certainly people who do have chronic pain who are getting into nursing homes and then going to a lot of other health care facilities, and they’re using opioids.”
While the study suggests that opioid-induced withdrawal can be serious and may even lead to overdose, Ochschers study did not look at the health impacts of opioid use on those who have not had it before.
Steinbeck, Ouchsner and Dolan, however, say the findings do suggest that opioids should be avoided for people who may be taking them to treat chronic pain or other conditions.