Prescribed but addictive drugs in NZ

I have recommended this insightful programme to many so want to provide a link here for those who wish to know more about prescribed but extremely addictive drugs dispensed to NZ workers everyday. Cannabis and Methamphetamine are not our only drugs impacting on safety in the workplace.

Whilst this programme doesn’t focus on opioids but on prescriptions in general it does have a very interesting case study of a  person dependent on them. Of note-Recently Oxycodone, a very strong opioid to rival morphine for use with high levels of pain was added to a table of drug cutoff concentrations in AS/NZS4760:2019. Oxycodone was introduced by Pharmac on the early 2000s and prescription levels rose rapidly till 2011 when it has plateaued. Its smaller opioid cousin, Tramadol is too frequently prescribed as a return to work anaelgesic in my experience and should be avoided by those in safety sensitive workplaces. It has the same potentially impairing and addiction predisposition of all opioids and is often dispensed in prescriptions combining slow and fast release versions for 3 month periods at a time, hence it can be stockpiled and given out without thinking to those not needing or able to cope with it too.

Opiates/Opioids in particular have  a recommended prescription max duration of 7 days of use as a pain medication in non cancer/acute pain in the USA in response to their recognised opioids crisis.  The fact that Oxycodone is detailed in Table 1 a of AS/NZS4760:2019 and given a cutoff concentration in the Oral fluid Standards doesn’t mean you are advised to include this in your suite of drugs tested for in the workplace, it is optional. It does however raise the subject which is very relevant to workplaces where workplaces and we all must look closely at the over prescribing, misuse and potential for addiction of some prescribed medications.

I have very personal and close family reasons for understanding and promoting this issue and the programme I provide a link for below. It also hits home for many who have been prescribed or used “Aunties” left over medications for pain in order to “get back to work”. The over the counter sales of Codeine containing medications was stopped in Australia April last year in response to growing concerns and issues arising from Opiate dependence and addiction. On the verge of cannabis law reform this seems a good time to review the issue of  legal drugs , Codeine and the closer scrutiny of opioids in our workplaces.

Opioids can cause sedation, dizziness, choking, breathing difficulties, dysphoria, nausea, Constipation, diarrhoea, reduced oxygen levels, sleep apnoea, itchy skin, dry mouth, tolerance, dependence, addiction

I strongly recommend involving a Medical Review Officer (MRO)of those with long term opiates use in your workplace as part of a wellness programme.
Watch the programme and maybe next GP visit don’t insist on needing a prescription to get value for your visit.

Highly recommended viewing- inspirational – a 2 part programme be sure to watch.