BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Federal health officials are hoping to stem the tide of opioid drug abuse by changing how the medication is prescribed. On Tuesday, the CDC recommending new guidelines for primary care doctors prescribing opioids for chronic pain.
"The epidemic of prescription opiate overdose and death is driven by doctor prescribing," said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. "But because doctor prescribing drove this, doctor prescribing can also help stop it."
According to the CDC, the amount of opioid drugs sold and prescribed has quadrupled since 1999. The organizations said 40 people a day die from overdoses.
The new guidelines make opioids a last resort for chronic pain management. Instead, it encourages doctors and patients to consider physical therapy and exercise along with non-addictive medicines like aspirin or acetaminophen.
Doctors should also outline the risk for addiction. If an opioid is required, the CDC said it should be the lowest possible dose for a short amount of time, and that doctors should follow up with patients to monitor their risk for addiction.
"A lot of people who get into problems with opiates start with acute pain, that's why we say that for most episodes of acute pain, three days will be enough. It is very rare that more than seven days will be needed," said Frieden.