opioids

August 10, 2017

Opioid addiction and deaths persist; interventions continue to expand

As the opioid epidemic continues to ravage U.S. communities, medical specialists are exploring better ways to treat pain without opioids.

Problem behavior indicative of addiction is pervasive among chronic pain patients who receive opioid prescriptions at primary-care clinics.

Millions of people take powerful prescription medications to treat chronic pain. But amid heightened concerns about opioid addiction, some patients are worried and want to stop.

In urban and rural areas alike, the United States faces an epidemic of fatal overdoses linked to heroin and prescription painkillers, among other substances.

Overdoses of opioid pain medications frequently occur in people who are prescribed low doses and who aren’t chronic users, according to a University of Washington-led

Heroin deaths in the Seattle-King County area rose 58 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to an annual report published today by the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute.

An often-effective treatment exists for people who want to stop abusing prescription opioid painkillers or escape heroin addiction, but that treatment is unavailable in U.S. counties where more than 30 million people live. 

In 1999, Washington state implemented regulations that largely freed doctors to prescribe opioid painkillers for common chronic conditions such as low back pain, headache and fibromyalgia.

Drug-caused deaths and heroin use among young adults increased in 2013, according to the annual King County Drug Trends report

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