The CDC Releases New Guidelines in the Opioid Addiction Epidemic Fight
With an estimated 1.9 million people addicted to prescription painkillers and an additional 600,000 addicted to heroin, it’s clear that opioid addiction is a currently a major health issue. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently released guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain as part of a new effort to combat America’s deadly opioid crisis.
These guidelines will help to reduce the risk of opioid abuse or death by offering stringent recommendations. Federal health officials are urging doctors to largely avoid prescribing highly addictive painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin when treating patients for chronic pain.
The new guidelines are directed at primary care providers, which issue about half of all opioid prescriptions. The CDC estimates that more than 40 Americans die each day from prescription opioid overdoses. The overprescribing of opioids to treat chronic pain is said to be a major contributor to the current drug-overdose epidemic. Additionally these guidelines promote the use of non-opioid therapy when possible while also aiming to help primary care doctors determine when and if opioids are necessary for the treatment of chronic pain
A comprehensive review shows that for acute pain, ranging from injuries or surgical procedures, only 3 to 5 days of therapy is required before pain can be managed with nonopioid options. This review differs from standard practice where 14 to 30 days of opioids are typically given to patients. Based on the recent evidence, the CDC recommends dispensing no more than 7 days of prescription pain reliever therapy to patients for their initial prescription and to reevaluate before deciding whether or not to write a new prescription for continued prolong therapy.
The CDC states that nearly 2 million Americans abused or were dependant on prescription opioids in 2014. It is estimated that from 1999 to 2014, more than 165,000 people died from overdose related to prescription opioids. It is also stated that since 1999, sales of prescription opioids in the U.S. have quadrupled. The opioid epidemic continues to be a major discussion point among the 2016 Presidential candidates as well as a primary focus for the Obama administration.