The study found between 2015 and 2018, 5.7% of U.S. adults used one or more prescription opioids, and 5% of adults used non-opioid prescription pain medications.
During that period, use of prescription opioid painkillers leveled off, while prescriptions for non-opioid pain medications increased, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found. “Physicians should look first at non-opioid drugs to manage pain and then if non-opioid medications don’t work, think about opioids,” said CDC researcher Dr. Qiuping Gu.
The findings indicate that pain management is becoming safer, according to Dr. Ajay Wasan, president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine. “It is becoming less reliant on opioids, and physicians are prescribing much more responsibly,” he said.
Heroin & the Opioid Epidemic: From Understanding to Action
Heroin and other opioids are ravaging communities across America. Heroin-related deaths increased by more than five times between 2010 and 2017, and drug deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are seeing a sharp rise as well.