By Mark Lefferts and Roberta Rampton, Associated PressAssociated PressMedical doctors and patients who have battled opioid overdoses say they are increasingly finding that they need medication to manage symptoms and pain and have a hard time getting help for their addictions.
The number of opioid overdose deaths rose to 4,000 in January from 3,000 the year before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
That’s nearly double the number of the same month last year, when there were only 7,500.
The rise is due in part to more doctors prescribing opioid-based medication for the opioid painkiller fentanyl, which has prompted a flood of prescriptions.
Many patients have taken a large dose of fentanyl without understanding the risks or how much they are taking, and some of the prescriptions have gone into the millions.
The opioid crisis is a new reality for many doctors, particularly those who treat patients with chronic conditions, and the problem is getting worse.
Doctors say they need to be prepared for a shortage of treatment medications.
The demand for drugs like Suboxone, OxyContin and hydrocodone for opiate addiction has soared in recent years.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has seized $20 billion worth of drugs in the past four years and many of those are opioids, including OxyContin, Suboxand hydrocODepress.
The CDC reported that a quarter of all opioid overdose cases in the U.S. in 2017 involved opioids.
The use of painkillers and other painkillers has risen sharply over the past decade.
The CDC reported more than 3.6 million people used painkillers last year.
The American College of Physicians said that in 2018, nearly 7 in 10 people who had a prescription for opioid painkillers were prescribed them for nonmedical purposes, such as treating pain or depression.
The group said more than 1 in 4 people prescribed painkillers for medical purposes said they were using them for an opioid addiction.
It’s a growing problem because painkillers are among the most widely abused drugs in America, and they are often prescribed to treat conditions such as headaches and high blood pressure.
Dr. Roberta Leff, an addiction specialist at the University of North Carolina Medical Center, said doctors are seeing a need to do more to help their patients manage pain and anxiety as their health worsens.
Some of the medications they are prescribing to manage their pain include buprenorphine, an opiate painkiller, oxycodone and naloxone.
Leffert said patients are finding it harder to access pain medications because of the increasing use of opioids.
A lot of their patients are trying to stay away from opioids, and there are a lot of prescriptions, and so they have a lot less options for people to get medication for their pain, she said.
In addition, patients are asking, “Are there any medications that are safe to use with opioid addiction?” and “Do you have other options to get these medications?”
Some of these medications are not FDA approved and they can’t be prescribed by doctors.
There are some pills that can help people quit opioid use, but the FDA has said it will not approve them because they are so dangerous.
Leiferson said some of these pills can be effective if prescribed for chronic pain.
“There are not enough of these, so you are going to have to go to the hospital to get it,” he said.
Doctors are increasingly seeing that opioids are not the only medications patients need.
Many people are also struggling with addiction to prescription painkillers.
For many, there is an ongoing struggle with addiction and an underlying medical condition, such a cancer or a neurological disorder, Leffret said.
Dr., Dr. Robert Lefford, a physician and medical director of addiction care at University of Nebraska-Lincoln Medical Center said the crisis is growing as opioid use continues to rise.
Dr Leffords treatment has included using a detox treatment to manage opioid use and providing opioid-free medication to patients with anxiety disorders, depression and other addictions, he said in a news release.
The doctor said many patients are also using other opioids like methadone or heroin to manage pain.
He said some people may also be taking drugs to numb their pain from surgeries and other physical injuries, as well as for weight loss and weight maintenance.
Dr, Robert Leiford, medical director at University, of Lincoln Medical Center in Lincoln, said many of the people in his care are struggling with opioid use that has led to addiction.
He stressed that patients can be opioid-dependent or not be dependent on opioids.
He said the opioid crisis in the United States has been a growing national problem.
“This crisis is affecting every state in the country and it is an epidemic that is reaching every part of our society,” he added.
He also noted that some states are not having an opioid crisis at all.