Half of urine drug screens revealed improper medication use! Wow. A study of over 4,000,000 (!) urine drug screens showed that 52% of patients were taking inappropriate medication. The most common combination of medications misused were opioids (pain medicines) and benzodiazepines (anxiety/insomnia) which accounted for 21% of the discordant samples. In 64% of the above cases, either the opioid or the benzodiazepine were not prescribed by a physician.
Urine drug screens are standard of care when a physician prescribes a controlled substance as it is the only objective way to know what the patients are really taking. This study of four million patients reveals that if we ask our patients half the time, they won’t tell the whole story. In another study of over 450,000 urine drug screens
45% were positive for nonprescribed or illicit drugs (in addition to the prescribed medications)
34% did not show all the drugs the patient had been prescribed
22% did not show all the drugs the patient had been prescribed BUT were positive for other illicit or nonprescribed drugs
Men and women were equally likely to misuse medications. Misuse peaked in young adults.
Opioid use was down by 12% between the years of 2012 to 2016.
So, if you are on a controlled substance, expect a urine drug screen as it is standard of care… and know that if you are taking nonprescribed illicit drugs, that it may alter your physician’s prescribing habits for you.