Survey finds American adults are not aware of which drugs are opioids and which are not

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A new survey of American adults has found that they do not recognize which drugs were opioids and which were not.

The study, by DrFirst, a healthcare technology consulting service, asked 1,000 adults about their opinions, knowledge, and usage of opioid-containing medications. Nearly a quarter of the respondents reported that they had been prescribed an opioid in the previous year. But 84 percent of them said they didn’t fill one or more prescriptions in the past year, and that 21 percent of them said the unfilled prescriptions were for opioids.

But, the study also found that while 76 percent of the respondents thought they knew whether or not they had been prescribed an opioid, only 22 percent of them could successfully identify seven commonly prescribed opioids. Among those respondents didn’t identify as opioids were Tramadol, Hydromorphone, Morphine Sulfate, Methadone, Hydrocodone, Fentanyl, and Oxycodone.

Additionally, many non-opioid medications were misidentified as not containing opioids. More than 70 percent identified Oxytocin as an opioid, while 56 percent identified Oxymetolazine as an opioid. Other drugs identified as opioids included Hydrocortisone, Hyaluronic Acid, Omeprazole, and Trazadone.

Researchers further found that while most Americans take the threat of opioid addiction seriously, only 23 percent said they stored the opioid prescription securely in a locked cabinet, as experts recommend. Fourteen percent said they stored them in their nightstand table, while 13 percent said they stored them on a kitchen table. Respondents said they also stored the prescriptions in their bathroom cabinets, in a purse or backpack, or on a bathroom counter.

“American consumers have some significant and dangerous misunderstandings about which medicines contain opioids,” said Colin Banas, vice president of clinical product solutions for DrFirst. “This is concerning because patients need to know if they are prescribed an opioid so they can use and store it safely. It should be a wake-up call to physicians and pharmacists, who should not assume their patients know this information.”

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