Study shows states with higher opioid prescription rates see fewer overdose deaths


A bottle with a hydrocodone (the generic name for drug sold under other names by various pharmaceutical companies) label and hydrocodone tablets spilling out isolated on white background. Hydrocodone is a popular prescription semi-synthetic opioid that is used to treat moderate to severe pain. Hydrocodone is said to be one of the most common recreational prescription drugs in America.

Data pix.

ALABAMA - As America confronts the opioid crisis, researchers are examining if there is a link between opioid prescription rates and drug overdose deaths.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  in 2017 Alabama had the highest opioid prescription rate in the country, with 107 per 100 people.

According to the CDC, opioids account for more than half of all drug overdose deaths nationwide. But, despite having a high prescription rate, a recent study by Quote Wizard found that it doesn't translate to a high overdose rate.

"A state like Alabama, for example, had the highest prescription rate in the country but only the 31st highest opioid rate," said Adam Johnson, Quote Wizard analyst.

And Alabama wasn't the only state that saw that trend.

"On the other end of the spectrum, a state like Massachusetts has a really high overdose rate and a really low prescription rate," Johnson pointed out.

The age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths increased in Alabama more than 11 percent from 2016 to 2017 according to the National Drug Institute.
The opioid prescription rate decreased. In 2016 it was 121 per 100 people.

The study, from Quote Wizard, focused on the health care cost impact of the opioid crisis.

"Overdoses, as well as prescription practices, lead to the bottom line of the overall health care expenditures. Health insurance companies bear the weight of that, those health care costs added by overdoses, as well as prescribing rates which ultimately come back on consumers in the form of more expensive premiums," Johnson said.

WHNT News 19 has reported on the opioid epidemic extensively. Most recently we looked into the long-term effects for children born to mothers addicted to opioids.

We recently explained the history of the opioid epidemic and the events that led prescription rates to rise in Alabama.

WHNT has also compiled a list of resources for those who are addicted and their families.

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