Good news on opioid prescriptions

A new study looking at data from 2010 to 2015 shows that fewer opioid prescriptions are being given in the nation, in Ohio and in Washington County. While the drug epidemic rages on, we think this is a big step in the right direction.

So many of the people we’ve talked to about heroin addiction in recent months and years have tracked their addiction back to an initial, legal painkiller prescription. It can be the start of a dangerous, deadly path for so many. And while many people can take opioids and never develop an addiction, it’s not worth the risk of prescribing them if they’re not absolutely necessary.

Those in the health care industry seem to be recognizing this and taking action. They’re prescribing other, less-addictive medications, prescribing smaller doses or practicing other forms of pain management with patients. Across Ohio, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a 192 percent decrease in opioid prescriptions during that five-year period.

Members of law enforcement and the Montgomery County coroner, who is inundated with overdose fatalities from much of the state, will point out that though prescriptions are down, those struggling with addiction are simply using other types of drugs. That’s true. The lessening of opioid prescriptions isn’t likely to help these people (although other forms of rehabilitation can). The real benefit to seeing these kind of statistics is what it will mean for the very young and future generations. If we stop over-prescribing these drugs, it may mean a lot of people never get on that addiction treadmill to start with.

While the fight is far from over, we’re encouraged by this report and hope the prescription numbers continue their descent.