As Opioid Prescriptions Fall, Concerns That Chronic Pain Patients May Suffer

Some doctors have expressed concern that regulations on opioid prescribing may harm chronic pain patients. (Photo: Sherry Yates Young / Shutterstock)
Some doctors have expressed concern that regulations on opioid prescribing may harm chronic pain patients. (Photo: Sherry Yates Young / Shutterstock)
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The number of opioid prescriptions in Ohio has declined 36 percent from 2012 to 2018, according to a new report from the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. The decline follows regulations put in place at the state level over the last few years.

Recently, some 300 medical experts wrote a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), expressing concern that severe chronic pain patients who aren't addicted may suffer from new national prescribing guidelines.

Ohio regulations still allow chronic pain patients to access high doses, and simply install safety checkpoints to prevent addiction, says Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Robert Bolash.

"It doesn’t close the door for any patients," Bolash said. "In fact, it offers an opportunity for those patients to take a pause, look at the strategy they’re currently employing, meet with a pain specialist to see if there are any other things that could be added into their regiment, and have another set of eyes look at their pain plan."

Bolash says trying other forms of pain management — like physical therapy, injections, surgery, or alternative medicine — may actually be more effective than opioids for pain patients in the long run.

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