Family Members of Patients Prescribed Opioids More Likely To Fill Opioid Prescriptions Themselves Interview with:
“Pills” by Victor is licensed under CC BY 2.0Marissa J. Seamans, Ph.D

Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Mental Health
Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
Baltimore, MD 21205 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Many patients report sharing their prescriptions for opioids with family members. What we didn’t know is whether family members of opioid users are more likely to fill opioid prescriptions themselves than family members of non-opioid users. Our study found that the 1-year risk of prescription opioid initiation among family members of prescription opioid users was an absolute 0.71% higher than among family members of non-opioid users. The risks were particularly higher for initial prescriptions with refills or longer days supply. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Readers should take away that family members of patients prescribed opioids are more likely to fill opioid prescriptions themselves than family members of non-opioid users. While differences in risk were small, this matters for patients because millions of opioids are prescribed and have harmful effects. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Future research should investigate the mechanisms underlying these associations. For instance, we did not have data to disentangle whether associations were due to seeing the same healthcare provider with a preference for prescribing opioids or sharing risky behaviors and norms surrounding opioid use. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Health care providers may need to take into account the context within which opioids will be used and the risks to other individuals.

A detailed list of our disclosures are in the article. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Marissa J. Seamans, Timothy S. Carey, Daniel J. Westreich, Stephen R. Cole, Stephanie B. Wheeler, G. Caleb Alexander, Virginia Pate, M. Alan Brookhart. Association of Household Opioid Availability and Prescription Opioid Initiation Among Household Members. JAMA Intern Med. Published online December 11, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.7280

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions. 

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Last Updated on December 12, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD