On Friday March 15th 2016, the CDC issued guidelines concerning the prescribing of opiates for chronic pain for cases other than “active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care.” They put together this guideline in order to address the epidemic of opiate addictions and overdoses evident in America today. Fact is that more people die each year from opiate overdoses than from guns or car accidents; most of those deaths, the CDC believes, could have been prevented with stricter guidelines on how and when to prescribe the drugs.
The bottom line is that the CDC recommends alternate therapy (exercise, Ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories). If opiates are, in fact, deemed necessary, healthcare professionals should prescribe the lowest effective dose for the shortest amount of time. Patients who are given opiates should also be closely monitored to make sure that the benefits outweigh the risks.
Questions remain, however, as to whether these new guidelines won’t, at least in the short-run, increase crime (as addicts break into homes and pharmacies to get the opiates that they are addicted to and can no longer get) and deaths (as addicts who can no longer get opiates start using heroin instead).
There is no doubt that tighter controls are needed. There is also no doubt that, in the long run, these new guidelines will help reduce overdose deaths, especially in people who’ve gotten addicted unintentionally. What, however, is missing in these guidelines is a plan to help those presently addicted to opiates.
You can read the complete CDC Guideline here.