Opioid Poisoning: Why Prescribing Guidelines Should Target Acute, Intermittent Users

Even though Fulton-Kehoe’s study is regional, she believes that the same study at the national level will yield the same results. 

“While the dose and duration of opioid therapy do increase the risk of overdose, many overdoses occur in those without high dose or long-duration opioid therapy, highlighting the inherent risks of this therapy,” she said. “In addition, concurrent prescribing of sedative-hypnotics is common.”

Correction: An earlier version of the article noted that opioid users on higher doses were not at higher risk of overdosing. A large proportion of opioid poisonings occur in patients on lower doses because there are more patients on lower doses than on higher doses.


1. Fulton-Kehoe D, et al. Medical Care. 2015; 10.1097/MLR.0000000000000384.