A new study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found high rates of new opioid use among seniors with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The study followed 120,000 Canadian adults ages 66 and older with COPD. Between 2003 and 2012, 70 percent of study participants who were living independently were given a new opioid prescription compared to 55 percent who were living in long-term care (LTC) facilities. The study also found that participants living in LTC facilities were potentially using opioids excessively, which means they were given multiple prescriptions, early refills and/or their prescriptions lasted longer than 30 days.
Common side effects of opioids such as codeine, oxycodone and morphine, may include falls, fractures, confusion, fatigue and more.
"The new use of opioids was remarkably high among adults with COPD living in the community," Nicholas Vozoris, PhD, a respirologist told Medical Xpress. "The amount of opioid use is concerning given this is an older population, and older adults are more sensitive to narcotic side effects. Sometimes patients are looking for what they think are quick fixes to chronic pain and chronic breathing problems, and physicians sometimes believe that narcotics may be a quick fix to COPD symptoms."