As America continues to struggle with opioid addiction, the CDC has advised doctors not to prescribe these highly addictive drugs for chronic pain. In dire circumstances when opioids must be used, prescriptions should last a maximum of 7 days.
These new guidelines were issued on March 15th and come after months of controversy between drug companies and doctors as the number of opioid addictions reaches public health crisis levels. In 2014, nearly 2 million Americans abused or were addicted to prescription opioids. Not surprisingly, the number of opioid prescriptions written quadrupled between 1999 an 2013.
So what are the options for those with chronic pain? The CDC recommends other pain meds like ibuprofen and aspirin. However, opioids are still recommended for those with cancer and patients who are near death. The CDC guidelines also call for increased monitoring and frequent urine tests for all patients taking opioids.
As reported by the New York Times, the new guidelines reflect a shift in thinking from the 90s when doctors (and drug companies) agreed that opioids were an appropriate long-term solution for pain management. The guidelines are only recommendations, however, and it is unclear what effect they will have on doctors, patients, and pharmaceutical companies.