Opioid abuse explosion brings new opportunity for solutions, health agency says

Opioid abuse explosion brings new opportunity for solutions, health agency says

Opioid use disorder exploded by 493 percent in Americans diagnosed from 2010 to 2016, according to a Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBS) study released last month.

The nationwide epidemic of addiction that has particularly devastated the South and Midwest reflects an ongoing challenge for the healthcare, law enforcement and neighborhoods, including those in Michigan, experts say.

More than one of every five Blue Cross members fill an opioid prescription annually, according to 2015 data, the study shows, leading the organization to promote awareness about the dangers of long-term use.

“I believe this report adds to the ever-growing evidence of the magnitude of the epidemic our country faces,” says Jim Gallagher, manager of pharmacy services at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.” It demonstrates the need to change how our health system utilizes opioids.”

Among other revelations, the study shows:

  • There was just a 65 percent rate of increase in the use of medication-assisted treatments, compared with the 493 percent opioid use disorder diagnoses increase from 2010 through 2016.
  • Ages 45 and older reflected a greater rate of opioid use disorder among women than men, while in ages younger than 45, men have higher rates of opioid use disorder.
  • Patients who fill high-dosage opioid prescriptions have much higher rates of opioid use disorder than patients with low-dose prescriptions, both short- and long-term.

“It shows that Michigan, like many other states, is struggling with this epidemic,” adds Gallagher. “However, it provides an opportunity for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to work closely with law enforcement, providers and other stakeholders to reduce opioid abuse, dependence and resulting deaths in Michigan.” 

For more information, visit https://bcbs.com/about-us/capabilities-initiatives/addressing-americas-opioid-addiction.

See other addiction-related coverage in TheHUB:

Michigan launches media campaign to reverse opioid addiction

Killing Pain: Advocates join health and police agencies in opioid battle






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