As your medical team we are worried about the ‘opiate epidemic’ in the USA, and concern that similar problems are arising in the UK.
We are sharing this information sheet with you to involve you in the discussion about these medicines and to protect you from possible harm.
The commonly used drugs in question are listed in the box below. They can be important for severe sudden pain, but the evidence for using them longer term is poor. They also do not work at all for a lot of people. Other things may help more, for example, gentle regular exercise for arthritis can be better than medicines.
Also, patients can become addicted to these medicines. This is made worse by trying stronger doses in an attempt to relieve symptoms, when in fact the symptom is not likely to respond at all. Addiction can cause severe harm and is clearly something we want to avoid.
To help manage the risks of these drugs, we may:
- prescribe in short courses, moving to milder drugs when possible
- prescribe as occasional prescriptions only, rather than place them on repeat prescription.
- ask you to attend for review more often than for your other medicines
- as policy, prescribe only from a list of drugs with which we are familiar
- if we identify that you have become dependent, work with you to address this.
We hope you will appreciate these steps are to help us provide good, safe care. If you have questions about your particular situation please discuss this with your doctor at your next review.
Ridgacre Medical Centres
Common pain medicines of concern
Those we consider prescribing:
Those we seek to avoid*:
*We sometimes prescribe these medicines on specialist advice but aim not to start them ourselves. If started by the A&E department in an urgent situation we aim to not continue them in the long term.