Doctors Write Fewer Opioid Prescriptions, But Epidemic Persists

July 10, 2017 06:19 PM

Doctors are writing fewer opioid prescriptions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That's good news experts said, but it's not nearly good enough.

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RELATED: Study: Few Opioid-Addicted Youth Get Standard Treatment Medication

The number of opioids prescribed in the U.S. peaked in 2010, then decreased each year through 2015, the CDC reported. The problem is the number of opioids prescribed remains about three times higher than in 1999.

RELATED: Lawmakers Propose Efforts to Combat Minnesota Opioid Epidemic

"So that caused the cascade of what we now are seeing as catastrophic results," explained Dr. Roger Laroche, the medical director of Allina Health System's addiction medicine service.

Laroche also pointed out the number of opiate-related overdose deaths is rising.

For instance, there was a 57 percent increase in Hennepin County between 2015 and 2016, according to Drug Abuse Dialogues, a local drug abuse education company.

RELATED: Opioid Epidemic Taxing Death Investigators Like Never Before

"People are more sneaky," Laroche said. "They're getting their supply not just from their doctors but from their ill relatives, from online sources."

It means the opioid epidemic may get worse before it gets better.

RELATED: Another Overdose Death, Plus A Champlin Man Found Dead in Portable Restroom

But Laroche said an increased awareness of the issue is a positive sign.

"Instead of thinking 'Thank goodness it's not me,' we need to say 'It is me for sure,'" he said. "'Could be me personally, could be my spouse, my kids, someone in my family, what am I going to do about it?' The first step is to talk about it, become aware and arm ourselves with this information."

Credits

Josh Rosenthal

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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