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Amount Of Opioids Prescribed In U.S. Has Been Falling Since 2010

By Kaiser Health News  
   July 07, 2017

A CDC report shows the wide disparities in opioid use across counties in the U.S.: Six times more opioids per resident were dispensed in the highest-prescribing counties than in the lowest-prescribing counties.

This article first appeared July 06, 2017 on Kaiser Health News.

By Vickie Connor

Ryan Hampton was prescribed opioids after he broke his ankle, but his doctors provided no plan to wean him off the powerful painkillers. (Courtesy of Chris Hazell)

Ryan Hampton was sitting at his computer at work when he began sweating, feeling sick and unable to concentrate. He went to the bathroom, splashed water on his face and called his friend for help.

That was the day he realized he was addicted to opioids.

Hampton, now 36 and living in Los Angeles, said the prescription for his pain medication had run out and he didn’t realize he would face withdrawal problems.

“I hadn’t made this connection yet because I really didn’t know what was going on with my body,” he recalled of that day in 2004. His doctors, he said, never discussed possible side effects of the drugs they prescribed for him after he broke his ankle the year before, nor did they offer a plan to wean him off the drugs. He described his doctors’ prescribing behavior as “increase, increase, increase.”

Frightened and unable to kick his habit, he turned to heroin before finally getting treatment and dealing with his addiction.


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Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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