Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines Wednesday that encourage physicians to use alternative treatments for pain in an effort to combat Wisconsin’s opioid epidemic.
CDC said in a statement the guidelines will help primary care providers prescribe the best and safest treatments available for chronic pain or pain that has lasted more than three months. The opioid epidemic has grown partly due to over prescribing the medication for pain.
Lori Cross Schotten, Wisconsin United We CAN spokesperson, said the guidelines make it clear doctors need to prescribe these medications for severe issues and not just any kind of pain.
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Schotten said the guidelines will make doctors ask if there are better options available to treat their patients other than opioids. They will also help physicians find alternative treatments for patients already suffering from opioid addiction, she said.
According to CDC Director Tom Frieden, more than 40 Americans die every day because of prescription opioid overdoses. He said “we must act now” to make more informed decisions and reduce this statistic.
Schotten said the guidelines are beneficial because they would prevent people from moving from one addiction to another. CDC said opioids have serious risks, and it gives 12 recommendations in the guidelines to address them.
“I really like that [the guidelines] has a whole section about how to help a person get over their addiction instead of having them move from one drug to another,” Schotten said.
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CDC recommends opioids not be used for chronic pain that is unrelated to cancer, palliative or end-of-life care. It said the lowest possible dosage should be prescribed and all patients should be monitored closely for addiction.
Schotten said patients also have a responsibility to determine their treatments and find alternatives to opioids if they can.
“Patients have also a right and responsibility to question the types of medications prescribed to them and what alternatives there might be,” Schotten said.