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Editorial: Stop over-prescribing opiate painkillers

State-wide initiatives important in halting opiate dependancy.

It’s disturbing to think a quick trip to the doctor for a broken ankle or sprained knee could result in a patient’s painful, lifelong addiction to opiates such as Percocet.

It’s even worse to think opiates — most often a drug prescribed by doctors to ease a patient’s pain — resulted in almost half of the overdose deaths in Ohio in 2014.

That being the case should be a red flag doctors in Athens County and elsewhere should think twice about before prescribing such drugs.

It's encouraging to see the newest state guidelines which urge doctors to do just that.

Most opiate prescriptions are written for acute pain — pain that doesn’t last very long and is usually related to tissue damage — because the patient desires immediate results and because one often doesn’t feel the doctor has properly done his or her job until they have a drug in-hand.

Even worse, those patients sometimes aren’t really feeling any pain at all. Some take to “doctor shopping,” or hopping from doctor to doctor with an imagined illness until they receive their drug of choice, leaving it up to each doctor to determine whether or not a patient is “faking” what may appear to be very real pain.

Doctors can check something called the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System to view a patient’s medical history and see whether or not they’re doctor shopping for controlled medications, which has lead to a decrease in the nearly 3,000 individuals doctor shopping in 2009 to about 1,000 in 2014. Which is a positive start, of course, but the more obvious solution would be to just prescribe less addictive medication. Ohio’s new guidelines suggest non-traditional pain relief methods, such as acupuncture and massage therapy.

We can only hope doctors will follow these guidelines and patients will be just as satisfied by their doctor recommending a non-traditional method for pain relief as they would be with a prescription for opiates.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Post's executive editors: Editor-in-Chief Emma Ockerman, Managing Editor Rebekah Barnes and Digital Managing Editor Samuel Howard. Post editorials are independent of the publication's news coverage.

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