Teens’ Risk of Long-Term Opioid Use Influenced by Family Opioid Use

Teens prescribed opioids after surgery are almost twice as likely to use the drugs long-term if they have a family member who has filled opioid prescriptions for four months or more over the past year, a new study finds.

The study included more than 300,000 people ages 13 to 21 who underwent procedures such as wisdom tooth extraction, appendix removal, hernia repair, and knee and shoulder surgery, HealthDay reports. Researchers found 4.1 percent of teens who filled one or more opioid prescriptions three or more months after surgery had a family member who used opioids long-term, compared with 2.4 percent of teens without long-term opioid use by a family member.

“We know from previous research that adolescents and young adults undergoing dental and other common surgical procedures are at risk of persistent opioid use after their first opioid prescription,” senior author Jennifer Waljee, M.D., of the University of Michigan said in a news release. “Our study suggests a potential relationship between this risk among youth and the presence of opioid use among family members and may be an important consideration when screening for individuals at risk for prolonged postoperative opioid use.”

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