CDC Creates Guidelines to Help Tackle Opioid Addiction
About 40 Americans Die Each Day from Prescription Painkiller Overdose
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging doctors to avoid prescribing powerful opiate painkillers for patients with chronic pain, saying the risks from such drugs far outweigh the benefits for most people, reports USA Today.
In its first ever guidelines for dispensing the morphine-like, addictive drugs, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, the CDC said it took the action to combat the nation’s deadly prescription painkiller epidemic. While there are exceptions for patients receiving cancer treatment or end-of-life care, the CDC advises doctors to prescribe the lowest possible dose for the shortest amount of time for most patients.
In 2013, an estimated 1.9 million people abused or were dependent on prescription opiates, and about 40 Americans die each day from overdosing on prescription painkillers. Many of the prescription opiates on the market are as addictive as heroin and poorly control chronic pain.
The CDC hopes the guidelines will help doctors determine when to begin or continue opiates for chronic pain, which type of painkiller to choose, how long to administer the drugs, and how to weigh their risks. Doctors aren’t legally obligated to follow the recommendations, which are intended for adult patients, but CDC directives often have great influence.