Opioid prescriptions have dropped by double digits, CDC says

Posted at 4:35 PM, Jul 07, 2017

After years of hearing it's a problem, and years of addiction and overdose numbers climbing because of opioid prescriptions, the Centers for Disease Control released what seemed like good news.

Between 2012 and 2015 the number of opioid prescriptions across the country dropped by double digits.

In 2012 for every 100 people, the number of opioids prescribed was a staggering 81.2.

As doctors began to realize the seriousness of the crisis they helped cause, by 2015 that number had dropped to 70.6 prescriptions for every 100 people.

That may seem like good news, but it is still triple the rate of prescriptions in 1999 and those in some European countries.

Those who help addicts every day say their workload is not dropping.

Patrick O'Shea manages the 24-hour national call center for Addiction Campuses.

"It's not bad news," he said of the CDC report. "But it's not a ringing sound of victory either."

O'Shea says addicts are having a harder time getting their prescription opioids, so they are moving to other drugs.

"Because the prescriptions are dropping, we're seeing an increase in heroin," he said via Skype from Nashville, Tennessee. "Heroin is getting stronger and stronger because it's cheaper and easier to get."

O'Shea says a stronger emphasis also needs to be placed on treating the mental health of addicts, not just the substance.