The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released new opioid guidelines in an effort to curb the increasing rate of opioid addiction in United States. The new guidelines are designed to guide physicians when issuing prescriptions to patients and includes a number of recommendations for changes to existing policy.
Research shows that overdose deaths due to opioid drugs are on the rise in the United States, which has prompted the new CDC opioid guidelines. According to the CDC, more Americans died from drug overdoses in 2014 than any year on record and a majority of these deaths involved an opioid.
The opioids of most concern include heroin, morphine, and especially prescription painkillers such as methadone, oxycodone (also known by the brand name OxyContin), and hydrocodone. Each is highly addictive and several studies show that prescription painkiller abuse often leads to the abuse and even overdose of heroin.
The CDC opioid guidelines are also in response to the fact that the amount of prescriptions written for opioids has quadrupled since 1999, even though there was not a similar increase in the amount of pain reported by Americans.
“More than 40 Americans die each day from prescription opioid overdoses, we must act now,” said CDC Director Tom Freiden in a media release. “Overprescribing opioids–largely for chronic pain–is a key driver of America’s drug overdose epidemic. The guidelines will give physicians and patients the information they need to make more informed decisions about treatment.”
Among the 12 recommendations outlined in the CDC opioid guidelines, there are three principles that are imperative to improving patient care, including:
- Nonopioid therapy is preferred for chronic pain outside of active cancer, palliative, and end-of-life care.
- When opioids are used, the lowest possible effective dosages should be prescribed to reduce the risks of opioid use disorder and overdose.
- Providers should always exercise caution when prescribing opioids and monitor all patients closely.
More information about the CDC opioid guidelines can be seen in the agency’s recent report.
The CDC opioid guidelines come after the passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), by the Senate in March 2016. The bill passed in the Senate with a vote of 94-1 with bipartisan support and is now awaiting consideration from the House of Representatives. If the bill passes the House, it will allocate $80 million to fund opioid and heroin prevention, treatment, and recovery programs.
Another initiative of CARA includes $25 million in grant money that would be available to states who require physicians to participate in the computerized Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs that track opioid prescriptions. The aim of this part of the plan is to prevent patients from “doctor shopping”–going from doctor to doctor until one fills an opioid drug prescription.
You can track the progress of the CARA bill through the government’s Association for Addiction Professionals.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, you don’t need to wait to get help. Plenty of free information is available and there are countless treatment options that can be of assistance to you. See our Addiction Resources page for a list of information sources and treatment options.