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Hospitalisations for opioid overdoses have soared by 50 percent in a decade with fears Britain...

Hospitalisations for opioid overdoses have soared by 50 percent in a decade with fears Britain is now in the grip of a prescription painkiller addiction crisis. 
Research by the London School of Economics found 16,091 people were admitted to hospital due to the harmful effects of powerful painkillers in 2018.
This is up from just 10,805 admissions in 2008, with treatment for opioid overdoses now costing the NHS more than £10 million a year. 
The study analysed hospital admissions in England for harmful use of opioids including codeine, morphine, co-codamol, fentanyl and tramadol.
They found the biggest increase was among middle-class Britons, with admissions up by 94 per cent in the most affluent areas of England. 
Admissions among over-55s have also soared by 160 per cent over the past decade, according to the study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.
The authors of the research labeled their findings a ‘conservative’ estimate of the burden of treating opioids admissions on the NHS. 
Experts have also warned the Covid pandemic is likely to have exacerbated the use of opioids , as millions of patients suffer in agony while trapped on record-high waiting lists for surgeries like hip replacements. 

There are fears of a growing opioid crisis in the UK that could mirror the heartbreaking prescription painkiller epidemic in the US as new research shows hospitalisations for opioid overdoses have soared by 50 percent in England within a decade

Opioid hospitlisations in England (the black line) have grown to just over 16,000 cases in 2018 up from about 10,000 in 2008, a rise of about 50 per cent in a decade, this was driven primarily by a growth in the number of opioid poisonings which are considered more serious (the dotted blue line) than opioid abuse (the green dotted line)

This graph shows the the number of opioid hospitlisations in England broken down by age. While the vast majority of admissions were in people between the age of 35 and 44 the researchers noted there has been a 160 per cent rise in the number of hospitlisations for opioids in the over 55s in the decade of the study

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This graph shows the relative change in opioid hospitlisation by number of health conditions over the decade of data included in the study. It shows an explosive growth in opioid cases among those with four or more health conditions (the solid blue, dotted green, and dotted black lines). The researchers said overall there was a 628 per cent increase in opioid hospitlisations among these patients

The study also found the biggest increase in opioid admissions was among more affluent Britons, with admissions up by 94 per cent in England’s least deprived areas (solid black line) between 2008 and 2018. This graph shows the relative growth by the deprivation level of patients’ residence 

Researchers also found a six-fold increase in admissions for patients with four-or-more underlying health conditions, suggesting these patients may have misused the drugs after being prescribed opioids.
The study said the findings were consistent with ‘fears about adverse effects from long-term use of prescription opioids in patients combating cancer pain or chronic pain.’
Deaths from opioid overdoses rose by 20 per cent between 2011 and 2016, but have since stabilised to around 2,000 deaths per year.


New research has shown hospital admissions for opioids has soared 50 per cent in the last decade in England adding to fears the UK could be facing a similar opioid crisis to the one in the US which has devastated thousands of families.  
In the early 2000s, the FDA and CDC started to notice a steady increase in cases of opioid addiction and overdose. In 2013, they issued guidelines to curb addiction. 
However, that same year – now regarded as the year the painkiller epidemic took hold – a CDC report revealed an unprecedented surge in rates of opioid addiction.
Overdose deaths are now the leading cause of death among young Americans – killing more in a year than were ever killed annually by HIV, gun violence or car crashes.
In 2019, the CDC revealed that nearly 71,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. 
This is up from about 59,000 just three years prior, in 2016, and more than double the death rate from a decade ago.
It means that drug overdoses are currently the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 years old.
The data lays bare the bleak state of America’s opioid addiction crisis fueled by deadly manufactured drugs like fentanyl.

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The researchers suggested this fall was due to efforts to reduce opioid deaths, such as increasing community access to the overdose reversal drug naloxone.
Over the 10 years analysed in the study, the total cost to the NHS in England of treating these opioid cases was found to be £137 million.
Opioids are painkilling drugs derived from the same chemicals found in the poppy plant and used in heroin.
These chemicals attach to pain receptors on the surface of the brain cells providing relief. 
They are used to treat acute pain, and are also often prescribed for cancer patients, and for people after a surgery.
But they have a sedative effect that can cause feelings of pleasure, and potentially lead to addition, long-term dependency and withdrawal symptoms.
The surge in admissions found in the new study will add to fears the UK could be facing a similar opioid crisis to that seen in the US, where more than 600,000 have died from overdoses since 1999.
Experts have also warned the Covid pandemic is likely to have exacerbated the use of opioids , as millions of patients suffer in agony while trapped on record-high waiting lists for surgeries like hip replacements.
Lead author of the study, London’s Dr Rocco Friebel, an expert in health policy, said the rise in opioid misuse was linked to a combination of factors, including ‘cuts to welfare support and rising unemployment’.
He added it may reflect increased numbers of the medications being doled out by GPs and doctors, with opioid prescriptions more than doubling in the eight years to 2016.
Dr Friebel said: ‘Even though prescribing trends have flattened in the past five years, the strength of prescribed opiate drugs has increased successively.’
The growth of opioid admissions was not matched by similar rises in other substances, according to the study.
Over the decade hospital admissions for other illegal drugs only rose by 11.6 per cent, and for alcohol only by 16.2 per cent. 
One limitation of the study that the authors acknowledged is that some opioid patients treated in A&E, but admitted as a patient, would not have been counted and therefore the study should be considered a ‘conservative’ estimate. 
Around 5 million people a year in England are given prescription opioids, and more than half-a-million taken them for at least three years, according to a 2019 Government report.

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Some experts have warned the Covid pandemic is likely to have exacerbated the opioid crisis, as millions of patients suffer in agony while trapped on record high waiting lists for surgeries like hip replacements.

The Mail has been calling for greater recognition of the opioid addiction crisis since 2017 with our Save The Prescription Pill Victims campaign.
Last year the NHS watchdog, the National Institute of Care and Excellence, said millions of patients suffering from chronic pain should no longer be prescribed painkillers.
The guidelines stated opioids such as tramadol and codeine ‘can cause harm, including possible addiction’.
And new rules also mean patients who buy opioids such as codeine or co-codamol over-the-counter at pharmacies are given stronger warnings about addiction risk.
A recent study showed that up to 53 per cent of opioids in England are unnecessary – with the NHS wasting £288million a year on inappropriate opioid prescribing.
And research published two years ago, by experts at Manchester University, found codeine use in the UK had risen five-fold in the previous decade.
Analysis shows that 212 people died of drug poisoning from codeine in 2020, the highest since records began in 1993 and twice the number from ten years ago.


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