In the last few years we’ve had no shortage of bad news about the opioid crisis. The death toll keeps rising and the media is full of stories about detailing how opioid addiction has destroyed families and communities. Finally, it looks like there may be some good news on the horizon. A recent report by Blue Cross Blue Shield, or BCBS, found that there was a slight decrease in the number of members diagnosed with opioid use disorder in 2017. The decrease was very small, from 6.2 in 1000 in 2016 to 5.9 in 1000 in 2017–about a 5 percent drop–but it’s the first decrease after years of steady increases. The report announced other good news as well. In the US, the percent opioid prescriptions filled has dropped 29 percent since 2013, and in 34 states, the drop was even greater. Perhaps more importantly, more of these prescriptions adhere to the guidelines set by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, to help prevent patients from forming physical dependence. These are meant to curb overprescribing, such as when patients are prescribed a 30-day supply of Vicodin after a wisdom tooth extraction. These guidelines primarily focus on two factors–dose and duration. More potent drugs should be prescribed for a shorter time, one to seven days, and longer treatments should receive lower doses. Ideally, patients requiring opioid pain medication should get a low dose for a short time. BCBS found that compliance with CDC guidelines has risen from 39 percent to 45 percent for all opioid prescriptions. And for people filling their first opioid prescriptions, 67 percent of those prescriptions fell within CDC guidelines, meaning 67 percent of new prescriptions were for a low dose lasting one to seven days. Obviously, the opioid crisis is far from over. Many people already struggle with addiction and there are many people who don’t get the help they need. Unless people are getting effective addiction treatment, the opioid crisis will continue. Many states are making progress on this front, but there is still a long way to go. The good news here is that there seems to be much greater awareness among both doctors and the general public of the dangers of prescription opioids. Responsible prescription practices should lead to fewer new cases of opioid addiction every year, making it easier to provide treatment for people struggling with substance use disorders.
If you’re struggling with substance use, Recovery Ways can help. We offer intensive outpatient treatment as well as residential treatment. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.