CDC: Opioid prescriptions declining but remain high nationwide

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Opioid prescribing is six times higher in some counties than others.

"It takes local state and federal governments working together, it takes health care providers and the law enforcement community, it requires non-profits and private citizens - ultimately it requires insurers and the medical community all working together", said Edwards.

However, the amount of opioids prescribed in 2015 remains more than three times higher than in 1999 and is almost four times higher than in Europe in 2015.

But while fewer new prescriptions are being written, existing patients are receiving larger doses and for longer periods of time, factors that doctors said contribute to persistent addiction levels. This trend is troubling, for research has shown that the risk of becoming addicted to prescription opioids increases with each day of use, starting as soon as the third day.

For the study, CDC researchers analyzed changes in annual prescribing practices from 2006 to 2015 and found a steady decline in the strength of opioids.

Louisiana has the sixth-highest opioid pain reliever prescribing rate in the country. Duration of opioid prescription has been linked as directly correlated with addition liability to these drugs. The average daily morphine-equivalent dose per prescription has declined each year since 2006. This is a 33% rise. Still, rates as of 2015 remained three times higher nationally than in 1999.

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The high-prescribing counties can be found across the country, including in Minnesota, particularly in the state's northeastern region. Rural areas don't have as many pharmacies, so many residents must travel to have their prescriptions filled.

Results of the county-level analysis showed that locations with a higher percentage of non-Hispanic whites, a higher prevalence of diabetes and arthritis, micropolitan status - defined as a nonmetro town or city - higher unemployment and higher Medicaid enrollment had higher levels of opioid use. High-dose prescribing fell 41 percent, from 11.4 per 100 people to 6.7 per 100 people, the CDC says. This variation points at the fact that all healthcare providers need to be brought under an umbrella of uniform and "evidence-based" practice guidelines for better patient care she explained.

In 2010 the government published new guidelines meant to cause doctors to scale back their prescribing of opioid painkillers.

The critical shortage of treatment for people with opioid use disorder also has complicated plans by the President Trump and Republicans in Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

"Second, physicians must continue to lead efforts to reverse the epidemic by using prescription drug monitoring programs, eliminating stigma, prescribing the overdose reversal drug naloxone and enhancing their education about safe opioid prescribing and effective pain management", the AMA concluded.

"Everyone is talking about it and thinking about it when making decisions", Ransom said about the risks of prescribing opioids. Behavioral and physical therapy and NSAIDs should be first choices. Immediate-release forms of opioids that acts fast and whose actions are abated faster should be preferred.

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