Everyone hates change! I hate it. You hate it. It’s universal. Which brings us to our current dilemma – how do we stop the rising death rates from prescription pain medications in the United States (and Oklahoma in particular). According to the CDC, deaths from prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999 https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/overdose.html . The number of opioid prescriptions has also quadrupled over the same period https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/overdose.html .
Oklahoma has one of the highest prescription rates for these medications (we are ranked number 5 with 127.8 opioid prescriptions per 100 residents) http://www.businessinsider.com/these-are-the-states-prescribing-the-most-opioid-painkillers-2016-3 . We rank 8th in the number of high dose opioid pain medication prescriptions http://www.businessinsider.com/these-are-the-states-prescribing-the-most-opioid-painkillers-2016-3 . Oklahoma ranks 9th in the number of pain medication overdoses at 15.8 per 100,000 people http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/painkiller-deaths-15-states-with-highest-rates/8/ . 725 of our fellow Okies died in 2015 due to this problem.
So how do we fix it? We must change the way we treat musculoskeletal pain. The clinical research indicates that the evidence-based approach to treating back pain is Chiropractic, followed by exercise, followed by NSAIDs if necessary, and reassurance http://www.thespinejournalonline.com/article/S1529-9430(10)00626-1/abstract (2010 Outstanding Paper: Medical and Interventional Science).
So we have to quit doing the same old thing that we’ve always done! We have to quit doing what doesn’t work! We have to make prescription opioid pain medications a last resort, not the first. Medications have their place, but evidence-based protocols and conservative treatment options should be exhausted before turning to these types of medications.
What if we could cut those overdose deaths by 50% or even more? That’s the type of change we can get excited about.