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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Opioid Prescriptions Are Declining

Over the past few years doctors across the country have been under immense pressure to help end the prescription opioid crisis that they [doctors] had a huge role in creating. For far more than a decade, physicians practicing in primary care facilities engaged in the overprescribing of prescription opioids, like OxyContin which is also prescribed under the generic name oxycodone. OxyContin, in particular, was advertised and marketed to doctors as being less addictive than other opioid narcotics—such as morphine.

Today, as many pain specialists knew years ago, there is not a doctor in the country who believes that there is such a thing as a non addictive opioid. Some opioid analgesics may be less potent, but everything from mild codeine to powerful fentanyl can be habit forming—lead to addiction—potentially resulting with a fatal overdose.

Both lawmakers and addiction health experts have been calling on doctors to only use opioids as a last resort with regard to pain management. Years of relying on opioids for any level of patient discomfort brought us to the brink; everyday in the United States 44 people die of a prescription opioid related overdose. Such a number is wholly unacceptable.

Fortunately, there has been a push to limit both pill dosages and the amount of refills a patient can have before needing to have their pain reassessed. Around the country pain management centers are now monitored; practices found to be overprescribing or failing to prevent “doctor shopping” with the use of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are being shut down. To put it plainly, it is far more difficult for people to acquire prescription opioids.

We’re pleased to report that for the first time since OxyContin began to be prescribed in 1996, the amount of opioid prescriptions being written in the United States is on the decline, The New York Times reports. In 2013, 2014 and 2015 the number of opioid prescriptions fell, which experts believe to be the direct result of government efforts and it is an indicator that physicians are finally starting to do their part.

“The culture is changing,” said Dr. Bruce Psaty, a researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle who studies drug safety. “We are on the downside of a curve with opioid prescribing now.”

At Whiteside Manor, we know all too well the insidious nature of opioid addiction. From legal Vicodin (hydrocodone) to heroin, opioids are highly addictive and extremely dangerous. Breaking the cycle of opioid dependence is a challenge to say the least, but it is possible. We have helped a significant number of people in the depths of despair recover from their addiction to painkillers.

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