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Prescription Opioid Use after Weight-Loss Surgery

August 9th, 2017

Adults who are obese often struggle with chronic pain, and many use potentially addictive prescription opioids to manage their pain. While prescription opioid use initially declines following weight-loss (bariatric) surgery, new research from Wendy C. King, PhD, at the University of Pittsburgh shows that opioid use in this group increases within a matter of years and eventually surpasses pre-surgery rates. “Our nation is in an epidemic of opioid abuse, addiction and overdose. Recent reports have suggested that bariatric surgery patients are at elevated risk of chronic opioid use,” said coinvestigator Anita P. Courcoulas, MD, MPH, at the University of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine. “Our study does not prove that bariatric surgery causes an increase in opioid use. However, it does demonstrate the widespread use of opioids among post-surgical patients, thereby highlighting the need for alternative pain management approaches in this population.”

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