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Chronic Disease Prevention Could Ease Opioid Crisis


Preventing chronic disease could help curb the opioid epidemic, according to research from the University of Georgia.

The study is the first to examine the relationship between hospitalizations due to opioid misuse and chronic disease.

“When we look at the opioid crisis, most of the response has been to treat opioid overdose, making naloxone more available, for example. That’s a good immediate intervention, but in the long run, we need to identify the underlying issues of the epidemic,” said study author Janani Thapa, who studies chronic disease at UGA’s College of Public Health.

One in four U.S. adults is living with at least one chronic disease, and many of these diseases are accompanied with chronic pain. Arthritis is one common example. Obesity is another.

The researchers gathered inpatient data from a national sample of community hospitals, and they looked at the prevalence of chronic disease among patients who had been admitted for an opioid-related injury, from 2011 to 2015.

The results showed that over 90% of the opioid-related hospitalizations were among patients with two or more chronic diseases.

The study was published in the latest issue of Preventing Chronic Disease.

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