Are opioids being overprescribed?

Are opioids being overprescribed?

In the wake of an increasingly expanding epidemic of opioid overdoses in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a new “Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.”

These recommendations aim to assist primary care physicians treating adult patients with chronic pain in outpatient settings, excluding patients undergoing cancer treatment, palliative care, or end-of-life care.

Currently, primary care physicians account for nearly half of all opioid prescriptions. The guidelines are aimed to curtail these opioid prescriptions when other treatment options may be available and to ensure the safest treatments for all patients.

“The opioid overdose problem is huge in America. More people die from overdoses than from car accidents,” says Dr. Adam Rubinstein, an internal medicine and addiction medicine physician at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill., and physician adviser to Live4Lali and Soft Landing Therapeutics. “The problem is multifactorial and is not just about doctors prescribing, however, helping doctors do a better job with prescriptions is a good step in the right direction.”

The CDC guideline includes 12 recommendations for primary care physicians including to encourage the use of non-opioid therapies, to prescribe only the lowest effective dosage amount of an opioid if needed and to always monitor patients closely.

While Dr. Rubinstein commends the guidelines as a move in the right direction, he would like to see additional changes rolled out to combat the epidemic such as:

  • Medical schools should provide more robust education on addiction and overdose.
  • More physician education opportunities should be offered online and in person.
  • Federal laws should give physicians access to patients’ complete drug records.
  • Better communication needs to exist amongst physicians and with pharmacists.
  • Mental health care needs to be more accessible.

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  1. The problem with the legislation and guidelines is the one who suffers is the patient. There are people out there who are in pain and unable to find the medications they need. I’ve had doctors refuse to even discuss pain medication and others who cut back on them at a time I was in considerable pain, telling me I didn’t need them every day. I hadn’t heard that medicine had discovered a way to measure pain so I found a new doctor, one who understood.

    • william pipkin March 24, 2016 at 6:53 pm · Reply

      I feel the same way except they need to be in as much pain as we “the injured” are, if not for my meds I would have been fired for not being to work every day. Those persons need to get the run around that they make me and my doctor go through.

  2. I’ll trade places with any uninjured people who want to deny me medication for my spinal injury. I’d like to see some of those doing all the judging, experience some of the pain!

    • Agree! I’d love to put them in my body for a week straight and let’s see how they feel or what they would do!

      And what is with these pain clinics charging 10 times what my primary charges?? Let us not only hurt physically, now lets rob their pocket book too!

  3. As is paint all inhailints in spray cans,booze everything you can possibly get high on people will find.
    All this Witch hint is doing is making DRs paranoid into not prescribing pain meds to those who actually need them.
    Were getting penalized for the scum bags out thete that would eat dog crap if they would get stoned.

  4. I think it is getting ridiculous that the government is getting so involved in what we can or can’t do, and what we can or cannot take, and how much we can or cannot take in regards to pain meds. I have been in excruciating pain for a while now. My meds have been practically cut in half due to the government monitoring doctors and patients. Maybe some of these agencies people should go through, or be in as much pain as some of us, then we can tell them how much meds they should take. It’s no wonder people in REAL pain have to buy them off the street because we can only get so many pills per month. Having to take meds in order to tie my shoe, bend over to pick something up, and work to put food on the table, then to have the government say “hey pal, you don’t need that many” how the hell do they know ???

  5. This is interesting information when it is well documented that post operative pain is not well managed even in the hospital/sx center setting. If the nurses/docs taking post operative care of patients are not providing enough pain medication, how is the government going to get it right?

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.