Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




College of Dental Medicine

First Advisor

Renata S. Leite

Second Advisor

Joe W. Krayer

Third Advisor

Robert G. Gellin

Fourth Advisor

Kathleen T. Brady


Prescription opioid abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States and has been declared an epidemic by the U.S. White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Immediate release (IR) opioids, especially hydrocodone and oxycodone, are abused or misused most commonly. Dentists are only second to family physicians in the number of IR opioid prescriptions written. Just under ten percent of the population in the United States in 2010 were classified with substance dependence or abuse in 2009. This study poses the following questions: 1. Do patients with a personal or family history of substance abuse manage prescription opioids differently than patients without a personal or family history of substance abuse? 2. Are they more or less likely to lend, borrow, save and/or properly dispose of leftover pills? 3. Do differences exist between their pre­knowledge and post-knowledge of prescription safety behaviors after going through a prescription safety intervention? Opioid analgesics were prescribed to sixty-two consenting adult outpatients treated at the Medical University of South Carolina Post-Doctoral Periodontic program or at the pain management clinic. Participants completed a brief, interactive, patient-tailored, web-based Script Safety intervention, which provided patient education regarding the hazards of prescription opioid misuse, and safe use, storage and disposal of prescription opioids. At one-week and one-month post intervention, participants were contacted via telephone to assess knowledge change and/or retention, medication misuse behaviors, and patient satisfaction. Forty-eight point four percent (N =30) of participants qualified for a positive personal or familial history of addiction. Participants with a positive history of addiction were more likely than chance to lend their prescriptions to other people. These participants were also more likely to borrow pills from other people. Therefore, identification of these patients is essential for the dental community to offer proper counseling and prescribing practices tailored to their individual needs. In doing so, it is likely that fewer drugs will be diverted.


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