Opioid addiction has climbed to near epidemic levels over the past decade. The growth hasn’t come from illegal “gateway” drugs, but from prescribed painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet. Due to the surge in prescription drug addiction, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) has stepped in and updated the guidelines relating to painkillers. With the implementation of these new guidelines, the CDC aims to lower the risk of opioid addiction by making the gateway drug to heroin—prescription drugs—less accessible to begin with.
To cut the risk of opioid addiction, the CDC has crafted guidelines focusing on how often doctors can prescribe opiate-based painkillers. For common aches and pains, doctors are instructed to have patients try exercise, physical therapy, and over-the-counter medications before turning to opioids.
The painkillers are meant to be prescribed as a last resort, not as a first option. Prescription dosages are also limited. Instead of giving patients a maximum of a month’s worth of pills, it’s suggested that they only give a maximum of a week’s worth. By shortening the amount of time a patient takes these painkillers, the CDC painkiller guidelines are limiting the potential risk of opioid addiction drastically.
The CDC has given out the clearest blueprint available for opioid prescriptions. While these changes are voluntary, doctors fearing lawsuits are to willingly comply with the changes the CDC is asking for. There are some concerns that the new CDC painkiller guidelines could make it more difficult for people dealing with chronic pain, such as cancer patients, to get their hands on the painkillers they need. The CDC is looking for better alternatives to the opiate-based medication.
The risk of opioid addiction and death with these painkillers is too high for all patients, including those with chronic pain. In 2014, there were 19,000 deaths linked directly to opioid use, which was the highest amount of opiate-based deaths in a single year. In that time frame, more than 200,000 prescriptions for opioid painkillers were filled out. With that many prescriptions floating around, it’s no wonder why so many people are at risk for opioid addiction.
Due to the new CDC painkiller guidelines, opioid users are going to have a harder time getting their drugs of choice. Where loved ones might be optimistic that their loved one will stop using, it’s more likely that a prescription drug user will turn to heroin. It’s a cheaper, more dangerous alternative to the prescription medications that were once more available. The risk of opioid addiction doesn’t go away simply because opiate-based painkillers are less accessible.
Some users may have a strong desire to quit knowing that they need help, but they could find themselves road-blocked by their own bodies. Withdrawal symptoms involved with opiate addiction can be difficult. Even then, staying away from opiates after detoxing might prove to be too challenging for some who use their addiction to escape from other problems they face. These challenges keep users at risk of opioid addiction.
If you’re dealing with opioid addiction or you know someone that is, these new guidelines can have a tremendous effect on their situation. While some users may turn to heroin, that doesn’t have to be you or your loved one. Instead, you can reach out and get the help you need to quit using.
Freedom from Addiction will help refer you to a detoxing and rehabilitation center designed to help you get and stay sober. Call us today at 1-844-HELP-NOW.
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