Over the last decade, the U.S has been experiencing an opioid epidemic. According to the U.S government’s National Institute of Health, about 1.7 million people suffer from substance use disorders directly related to prescription opioid pain relievers. In 2016, more than 20,000 people died as a result of an overdose of prescription opioids. And in the same year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that over 11.5 million Americans misused prescription opioids.
The data is clear and alarming- opioid misuse should be a valid concern for all physicians. The solution is not, however, to stop prescribing opioids in non-acute cases. Many people suffer from chronic pain and legitimately need opioids to manage it and improve their quality of life.
Instead, adherence to medical guidelines and recommendations like the CDC’s Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain may be the best route to take. It focuses on how physicians should go about the selection, dosage, follow up and discontinuation of opioids.
An important focal point of the guideline is monitoring. The guideline recommends that “When prescribing opioids for chronic pain, clinicians should use urine drug testing before starting opioid therapy and consider urine drug testing at least annually to assess for prescribed medications as well as other controlled prescription drugs and illicit drugs.”
Benefits of Routine Urine Drug Testing
There are many advantages to carrying out scheduled urine drug tests on patients for whom you’ve prescribed long-term opioid use:
- It enables you to detect when the patient is misusing the prescribed opioids.
- It alerts you to the possibility that your patient is not taking the prescription opioids. This may mean that the drugs are being diverted illicitly or that the patient is struggling with some adverse reactions to the drugs and has not reported them to you.
- It enables you to detect the use of any other illicit opioid or drug alongside the use of the prescribed opioids, especially as these illicit drugs may increase the risk of overdose.
ASAP Labs Urine Drug Testing Method
Using the enzyme immunoassay technique, ASAP Lab’s urine screening tests provide doctors with information about the levels of prescription opioids in a patient’s urine. The tests also check for illicit opiates like heroin and oxycodone- the most commonly used substances alongside prescription opioids in cases of misuse. Other commonly abused drugs checked for are amphetamine, ecstasy, methadone, phencyclidine, and benzodiazepines. ASAP Lab can also test for many more drugs and substances, and can even build custom panels to accommodate your specific needs.
As noted by the CDC, urine drug tests results are sometimes subject to misinterpretation. In fact, training modules on the Guideline for Prescribing Opioids state that “…providers are highly encouraged to consult with the laboratory or local toxicologist for result interpretation.” ASAP Lab is dedicated to helping you provide the best healthcare for your patients. For this reason, there are always laboratory specialists on the ground to give you an accurate analysis of the test results as well as technical information on assays used.
ASAP Lab can work with most physicians throughout the country. Reach out to see if we can work with you to meet your testing needs.