Prescriptions For Opioids Down, First Time In Two Decades
According to data from IMS Health, the American Medical Association reported that all 50 states had a decrease in the number of prescription filed in 2015 for opioids.
“This information, which reflects the activity of physicians and other health care professionals, shows that nationally there was a 6.8 percent decrease in the total number of prescriptions for opioid analgesics in 2015 (227,780,915) compared to 2014 (244,462,567).
“There also was a 2.9 percent decrease nationwide in 2014 compared to 2013 (251,814,805) when all but four states saw decreases in 2014. The rate of change from 2013 to 2015 was -10.6 percent.”
Over the past years 2013-2015 the number of prescriptions filled for opioids have generally declined. In fact, prescriptions have declined in 49 states since 2013, with only outlier South Dakota showing an increase.
The biggest decreases were seen in West Virginia, the state suffering from the most overdose deaths, and also Oklahoma and Texas. All in all, IMS Health reported a 12% decrease in prescriptions for opioids nationwide.
What Are Opioids? Why Are They Dangerous?
Opioids are analgesic narcotics, pain relievers which should be available by prescription only. Included in this category are oxycodone (OxyContin), morphine, and hydrocodone (Norco). They work by attaching themselves to opioid receptors in the brain which blocks emotion associated with pain intensity.
But like many such drugs, including heroin, opioids are addictive. They easily lead to dependence and are responsible for many overdose deaths in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of overdose death by opioids rose from 7.9 to 9.0 per capita in the U.S. from 2013 to 2014.
According to Medscape, the drugs kill around 17,000 people per year.
Due partially to media interest, CDC warnings, prescription monitoring programs, and other state and federal efforts, the culture of opioid prescribing may have finally begun to change.
Detractors of the trend worry that patients in serious pain who are using the drug responsibly may be punished for the misuse of others. That is, there is probably a gap between many of the people who need the drugs and those who are abusing it for recreational purposes.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the truth is 75% of all opioid abuse starts with people using medication that was not prescribed for them. They obtained it from a friend, family member, or dealer.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology