More limited prescription of opiates needed

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The prescription painkillers that are at the root of our ongoing opiate epidemic were first intended for cancer patients with great pain and little time left.

Before the 1990s, generations of doctors were taught that opiates were addictive and should be used in a very limited way. But with the development of new formulas such as OxyContin, things began to change. These drugs were believed to be less addictive, and soon, doctors were prescribing them for injuries, surgery recovery and many types of chronic pain.

Sales of prescription in the United States rose 300 percent over a decade, according to the Center For Disease Control. But sadly, illegal use of those pills skyrocketed, too. Then, one unintended consequence was followed by another, as many pain pill users turned to heroin as a cheaper, more readily available alternative.

Clearly, a fresh look at how these drugs are being prescribed is long overdue…

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