In response to the growing opioid epidemic in the United States, the C.D.C. announced yesterday recommended guidelines for primary care doctors who give their patients prescription painkillers.
Although these guidelines are non-enforceable, many healthcare professionals choose to follow C.D.C. recommendations, and they hold significant weight in the healthcare community.
Doctors can prescribe opioids for common issues such as arthritis or back pain, although painkillers are also used for long-term symptom management for those with chronic pain. However, opioids can become addictive, and once users are hooked, they may eventually turn to cheaper, more readily available drugs like heroin.
Policy makers and the C.D.C. hope these new guidelines will encourage doctors to try other pain management tactics with their patients before prescribing opioids, making addiction less likely and the drugs less accessible.