Opioid Prescriptions at All-Time High in Rural America
Each day, over 115 U.S. citizens die from overdoses from opioid prescriptions. This reality has led to a serious national crisis. Many states have declared public health emergencies due to the number of overdoses each year. Even with federal laws in place, the number of opioid prescriptions, such as morphine, hydrocodone and oxycodone, has increased greatly, especially in some rural areas. In 2016 data released by the CDC, there are quite a few states with high amounts of opioid prescribing rates. Here are the top three.
Number 1: Alabama
In 2015, physicians in Alabama wrote a staggering 5.8 million prescriptions for opioids. The CDC ranked them highest nationally in 2016 for opioid prescribing. In addition, the state saw an increase of 82 percent of overdose deaths between 2006 and 2014.
While stunned, Alabama is already making plans to help reduce these numbers. They’re starting with the recommendations from the CDC report. These include:
- Improving access to Naloxone, especially for health care providers and law enforcement
- Penalizing the trafficking of fentanyl
- Investing in addiction treatment programs and sober living homes
According to Lynn Beshear, the director of Alabama’s Department of Mental Health, “When people go into an acute detox and treatment situation, when they have made the decision to kick their habit and move into a mode of recovery and get their lives together, there are gradations of time they need for recovery, We need to ensure they are in the right housing situation.”
Number 2: Arkansas
The CDC rated Arkansas as the second-highest opioid-prescribing state in the nation. Arkansas had over 110 prescriptions for every 100 residents. Overdose rates have increased as well, from 5.1 percent to 13.4 percent for every 100,000 in the last 16 years. According to experts, the high rates of poverty, smoking and obesity in the state has led to increases in chronic pain. This created the ‘perfect storm for opioid prescribing.’
Arkansas lawmakers have already voted for increased limitations on opioid prescriptions for acute and chronic pain. This involves:
- Providing only a seven-day supply of medication for acute pain, even after surgery
- Making doctors who prescribe more than 50mg of morphine, or its equivalent, per day explore what other alternative treatment options are available
- Requiring doctors to limit supplies for chronic pain to 30-day supplies with visits required for new prescriptions
Number 3: Tennessee
In 2016, 7.6 million opioid prescriptions were handed out by doctors in Tennessee. With an average of 3 people dying each day from drug overdoses, Tennessee has taken action by reasonably limiting the number of opioid prescriptions in the state. The law applies to almost everyone, with the exception of individuals with cancer and those that are receiving end-of-life care.
Tennessee lawmakers have passed a bill that limits initial and acute care to a five-day supply of opioid prescriptions. After that, doctors may prescribe no more than 40mg of morphine per day or its equivalent. This new law would not impact any current patients who have been prescribed opioid painkillers, which is disheartening since there are so many who are already dangerously addicted to pain pills.
Getting Help With Gracious Care Recovery Solutions
If you live in a high-ranking opioid prescribing state and want help with your struggle with addiction, Gracious Care Recovery Solutions can provide the assistance you need. We offer medical detox to help ensure your detox is safe and as comfortable as possible (without the painful and frightening withdrawal symptoms that keep individuals in the cycle of drug addiction). We also have PHP, IOP and OP options. When you’ve completed addiction treatment, we help you transition gradually into your new life.
Learn more about what we offer today. Give us a call now.