Blue Cross Blue Shield Opioid Addiction Study Produces Shocking Findings
Insurance agency Blue Cross Blue Shield recently analyzed records for 30 million customers, and discovered that nearly 20 percent of patients were prescribed opioid painkillers at least once in 2015. Of those 20 percent, almost half were prescribed large doses, resulting in a larger chance of opioid dependency.
Between 2010 and 2015, opioid painkiller addiction and abuse increased by nearly 500 percent—meanwhile, medically assisted treatment rates only grew by 65 percent.
This means that over two million Americans each year are suffering from this opioid addiction—and that’s not even one specific demographic.
“Whether it be your family, whether it be your neighbor’s family or whether it be someone down the block, we’re all struggling with this issue of opioid addiction,” said Blue Cross Blue Shield Chief Medical Officer Trent Haywood.
According to Haywood, opioid abuse stems from the 1990s, when physicians made strong efforts to address the pain of their patients. “Unfortunately, as we are starting to see unfold now, we underestimated the risk related to that particular high doses of prescribing those particular opioid,” he explained. “Now we are suffering the consequences of that.”
Opioid addiction, which would normally have been considered an acute situation, is now becoming chronic. “This opioid addiction is a chronic condition and we need to treat it that way,” said Haywood. “We need to make certain these people are not only in treatment, but they have the necessary support for the chronic condition that they have.”
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Read the full story at pbs.org.