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Painkillers Killing Two People an Hour in US

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Waismann Method: CDC says in the U.S., prescription painkillers kill nearly two people every hour

The agency says prescribing practices vary widely among states, and physicians need to change those habits before meaningful change can occur.

LOS ANGELES, July 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says American physicians write 259 million prescriptions for opioid or narcotic painkillers every year – enough to provide every adult in the U.S. with a whole bottle of pills. Yet, the report notes, not all areas of the U.S. are created equal when it comes to prescribing habits. In fact, the highest prescribing states are concentrated in 10 states located in the South and Midwest.

The CDC compiled its report in response to the rising tide of prescription painkiller overdoses that’s been sweeping the country during the last several years. In its report, which was based on 2012 data, the CDC says overdoses of painkillers claim the lives of 46 people each day in the U.S. – nearly two people every hour.

The best and most effective way to battle painkiller addiction is to change the way physicians prescribe them, says Michael H. Lowenstein, M.D., director of the Waismann Method®, a leading provider of advanced treatment for opiate dependence located in Southern California.

“For years now, studies have shown that doctors’ prescribing behaviors are a driving influence in painkiller overdoses and overdose-related deaths,” said Lowenstein, a pain specialist and board-certified anesthesiologist.

Apparently, the CDC agrees. In its report, the agency notes that higher rates of prescribing are associated with an increased number of overdose-related deaths, suggesting that where doctors practice has a significant influence on how they prescribe.

The report also notes that while the conditions that cause pain typically do not vary from place to place, the prescribing habits of physicians can vary widely. For instance, physicians in the U.S. prescribe twice as many painkillers per person as their Canadian colleagues. Alabama, the state prescribing the highest number of painkillers per person, wrote nearly three times as many prescriptions per person as Hawaii, the state with the lowest painkiller prescription rate.

The 10 states with the highest number of painkiller prescriptions per person include Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Indiana and Michigan.

Lowenstein noted that many doctors prescribe painkillers based on patients’ expectations of immediate relief without regard for the potential long-term consequences of the drugs.

“Physicians need to consider many factors when prescribing, factors like age, emotional profile and dependency risks, and not rely only on patients’ subjective reports of pain,” he said. “And when painkillers are prescribed, the physician needs to educate each patient about the very real risks of dependency that can occur.”

In issuing its report, the CDC provided two potential steps states can take to help decrease overprescribing of painkillers:

  • Increase the use of monitoring programs to keep track of painkiller prescribing behaviors and alert prescribers when problems are identified.

  • Implement policies at the state level to oversee medical facilities that specialize in pain management – so-called pain clinics – to reduce prescribing practices that have been linked with overdosing.

For those who have already fallen victim to prescription painkillers, Lowenstein says the best approach is one of understanding and compassion.

“Sadly, many people who are battling opiate addiction find themselves being judged and even maligned, by friends, relatives – even in the news articles that are supposed to be drawing attention to their plight,” he said. “Until and unless these prescribing habits are changed, there’s an excellent chance that the number of overdoses will continue to climb and more innocent lives will continue to be lost.”

About WAISMANN METHOD® Treatment

Since 1999, the WAISMANN METHOD® has been recognized as a leading provider of medical treatment and detoxification for patients dealing with opiate addiction. Led by Director Michael H. Lowenstein, M.D., the Waismann Method® offers a range of comprehensive treatment programs including “rapid detox,” medically-assisted detoxification and Domus Retreat Recovery Center. Doctors, therapists and other staff members work hand-in-hand with patients to create a personalized treatment and aftercare plans designed to ensure a healthy and effective transition to life without opiates. For more information, please visit opiates.com.

SOURCE Waismann Method

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