One of the key preventative strategies for safe prescription painkiller management is the use of urine drug tests.

Education in itself is important for better managing prescription painkiller use as both the patient and physician need to be fully aware of the potential for risks. Abusers of prescription painkillers often “shop doctors”, that is going to many doctors at the same time to load up on different prescriptions for these drugs. Therefore, a urine drug test that can detect any drugs already in the person’s system is a good preventative measure for stopping this practice.

A urine drug test, in particular, may be important for healthcare providers because drugs stay in the urine longer than they do in the blood.

Evidence of past use can remain detectable for several days in the urine, as opposed to sometimes only hours in the blood. Physicians then can clearly see if a patient is using other illicit substances before providing a prescription, or as a tool to use during on-going treatment.

Certain populations are at greater risk for abuse and misuse of prescription painkillers, such as those with a family or personal history with addiction. However the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notes that there is a level of risk with every patient and recommends that healthcare providers use “patient-provider agreements combined with urine drug tests for people using prescription painkillers long term.”

Many healthcare professionals consider urine drug tests and other monitoring tools crucial to better managing pain and saving lives. 

Deaths attributed to prescription painkiller use are constantly on the rise, with deaths related to drug overdoses tripling since 1990. In Clark County alone, oxycodone was responsible for 146 deaths in 2012, higher than rates associated with cocaine or heroin.

Have you ever had to take a urine drug test? How important do you think this tool is for safe and responsible pain treatments? 

Image by Micah Baldwin via Flickr

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