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Less Than a Quarter of Americans Accurately Identify Opioids in Study

August 24, 2020

While most Americans are now taking the threat of opioid addiction seriously, a new study shows fewer than 1 in 4 can accurately identify medications that contain opioids.

In a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults conducted on behalf of DrFirst, a healthcare technology and consulting services firm, 76% of respondents said they think they know when they are prescribed an opioid, but just 22% could successfully identify the following seven common prescribed opioids:

  • Tramadol
  • Hydromorphone
  • Morphine sulfate
  • Methadone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Fentanyl
  • Oxocodone

Meanwhile, several non-opioid medications were incorrectly identified as containing opioids:

  • Hydrocortisone
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Omeprazole
  • Oxymetolazine
  • Oxytocin
  • Trazodone

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents incorrectly identified oxytocin as containing opioids.

The study also found that 65% of the 600 respondents who are parents of children under the age of 18 said they have spoken with their kids about opioid abuse, but just 23% said they store their opioid medications in a locked cabinet. Nightstand tables, kitchen tables, bathroom cabinets, purses/backpacks, and bathroom counters are among the unsecured locations being used to store medications by survey respondents.

“American consumers have some significant and dangerous misunderstandings about which medicines contain opioids,” said Colin Banas, MD, VP of clinical product solutions for DrFirst, said in a news release. “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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