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Mayo Clinic Study: Opioid Prescriptions Rates Haven't Declined

August 01, 2018 10:52 PM

(ABC 6 News)-- Opioid addiction and prescription abuse have made headlines in recent years, but a new study by Mayo Clinic found opioid prescription rates haven't declined.

Over the past several years, they’ve stayed more or less the same.  

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"We have not seen very much change in about the last 5 years in what proportion of people are taking opioids,” said Molly Jeffery, co-author of a new Mayo Clinic-led study on opioid prescriptions. 

“Given the amount of attention since say 2014 or 2015 it’s surprising that were not yet seeing declines in the proportion of people using opioids,” she said.

Jeffery says in the United States, patients are prescribed lots of opioids.

"Something like seven times what they use in the UK and nearly double the next closest countries,” she said.

Heather Geerts at Zumbro Valley Health Center says it's hard for people to recognize addiction when the pills are prescribed by a doctor.  

"It's okay to say ‘okay I started taking this for a very valid reason right I had back pain or I was in a car accident and something was injured and I needed to take it or I had a surgery and I had to take it’,” Geerts said.

Jeffery says moving away from opioids is the next step.

“We desperately need better treatments for chronic pain and we need to improve access to the treatments we already have,” she said.

Using other medicines to manage pain, like acetaminophen, especially when it's short-term, is one thing that can be done.

“What we really need are better options," said Jeffrey.

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Alice Keefe

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