CDC: Still too many opioids being prescribed

CDC: Still too many opioids being prescribed

Despite the dozens of opioid and heroin related overdoses we see daily, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, there has actually been a significant decrease in the amounts of opioids being prescribed.

However, the CDC says there are still too many opioids being prescribed and it varies widely across the country.

In Palm Beach County alone, the amount of opioids being prescribed has been cut in half in a five year period. That's the same with Martin County.

The hope, according to doctors, is to stop a would-be addict from getting started in the first place. But it leaves some experts with a big concern, what about those who are already hooked?

Down at Delray Beach Beach Medical Center, Dr. Peter Kaplan sees first hand the severity of an opioid addiction.

"The amount of patients we see is certainly concerning," said Kaplan.

That's why he looks to avoid prescribing a narcotic, if possible.

"Patients who have superficial lacerations, patients with sprains or contusions, those patients may actually do better with anti inflammatories."

Kaplan agrees with a CDC report, that says, despite recent decreases the amount of opioids being prescribed is still too high.

"We want to avoid the cycle of addiction," said Kaplan.

The report examined the amount of opioids prescribed by county.

All five counties in our viewing area saw double digit decreases between 2010 and 2015.  Both Palm Beach and Martin Counties cut their numbers in half.

Meanwhile, in Okeechobee and Indian River Counties, despite the decreases there, the amounts being prescribed were still some of the highest in the country.

"It's a sword that cuts both ways," said licensed Psychologist Raphi Wald, who works with drug addicted patients.
He worries this push to prescribe less, is helping, but also dooming those who are already addicted. 

"I think that when people can't go to their doctor to get their medications, they go to the street to get them. And when you go to the street, you don't know what you're getting," said Wald.

Wald says there are several reasons why the number of overdoses continues to rise, but he says the solution lies in science.

"It is a chemical dependency, so we need an additional chemical answer for it."

CDC officials tell me they believe the heroin overdoses are not connected to the reduction in opioids prescribed. Rather,  they say its connected to the increase in amounts prescribed over the previous 15 years.

Scripps Only Content 2017