Forty people die every day in the U.S. from overdosing on painkillers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Colorado alone, 40 people die every month from overdosing. In order to curb the numbers, the CDC has just issued guidelines to tighten up painkiller prescriptions.
University of Colorado pharmacy professor Robert Valuck says it’s about time CDC issues guidelines advising doctors on how to prescribe painkillers.
"What CDC is saying in those guidelines is that painkillers aren't right for everybody every time and if doctors need to prescribe them, they need to do so in low doses,” said Professor Robert Valuck.
Opioid abuse is the fourth worst epidemic facing the nation after obesity, cancer and heart disease. Valuck says the problem is becoming prevalent now but it was in the making for years.
“We focus so much attention on treating pain that is has become too easy to get painkillers," Valuck.
The addiction often starts at home and inside your medicine cabinet. In fact, Valuck says 73 percent of people who end up getting addicted to painkillers started using pills found in the cabinet of a friend or a family member.
The new guidelines, Valuck says is CDC’s first ever attempt to address the problem. He says it’s a step towards the right direction on how to tackle the epidemic.
“We have to be careful with using these drugs, some have benefits but they also have some substantial risk and we have to be just more careful about using them"
Valuck says some in the medical community are uncomfortable with the new guidelines claiming CDC is dictating how doctors should prescribe pain killer medications.
State of Colorado is working on different aspects of the problem, through the Colorado Consortium Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention organization.
To read the full report of the CDC guidelines click on this link: cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/rr/rr6501e1.htm