Harvard study links refills and not dosage to opioid addiction - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Harvard study links refills and not dosage to opioid addiction

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MAHONING COUNTY, Ohio -

A newly released study by the Harvard Medical School offers new insight into the opioid epidemic. 

The study of more than 560,000 people tracks how opioid addiction rises when prescriptions are renewed.

The study found that each additional refill increased the risk for addiction or non-fatal overdose by 44 percent.  That even the first refill doubled the risk.  

At the Neil Kennedy Recovery Clinic in Austintown, the findings support what they see among people in recovery.

"Yes, I would say for that most part that's something that we see in most of our cases," said Brandon Miller, a medical assisted treatment specialist.

Dosage actually proved to be far less of a risk factor for addiction or overdose. 

"So it seems to be something more time-dependent than dose-dependent," said Raymond Karlson of R/C Outsourcing in Lowellville.

Karlson and Miller believe Ohio is taking positive steps in controlling opioid distribution.

 "It's commendable that they are limiting the number of doses that a patient can receive and the number of refills," said Karlson.

"America prescribes more opiates than almost every other country combined. So there are a lot of other alternatives to pain," added Miller.

The newly appointed head of the Food and Drug Administration was asked how big a problem is the opioid crisis.

"I think that this is one of the biggest public health crises facing this country, ever," said FDA Commissioner Gottlieb said.

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown has called on President Trump to renew the declaration that the opioid crisis is a public health emergency, saying little has been done since the first declaration in terms of action or funding. 

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