Fewer prescriptions written for addictive painkillers

A new study indicates there’s been a national decline in prescriptions written for addictive painkillers, like opioids.

It takes the US back to 2006 levels, with a goal of 1995 levels.

At the same time, “medication-assisted therapies” (MATs) nearly doubled from 44,000 to 82,000 per month.

Professor of biomedical informatics and emergency medicine at UTHealth Dr. James Langabeer said for the last few years, there's been a hard focus to find ways to stop over prescribing painkillers for patients who don't need them.

“Somewhere between half and 60 percent of all opioid overdose deaths occur because of prescription, not illicit drugs like heroin, but prescription,” said Langabeer.

He said they're developing a Houston-wide network to bring awareness of opioids being overprescribed, as well as get people treatment.

He’s helping analyze Texas-level prescription drug data right now and says the decline is not surprising with MATs like recovery coaching, social support, peer recovery and outpatient treatment.

Langabeer said there is a problem in Houston.

“On an annual basis, that would be for Houston area somewhere between (500) and 600 deaths per year. It’s a significant problem. We know we have a problem here, we just haven’t identified it and been focusing on it,” said Langabeer.

He said if it's been sometime since you had a surgery and you're still taking pain medications, you need to consider doing something differently and reach out for help.

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