The Opioid Crisis — A Case of Mass Homicide?

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STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • The inappropriate treatment approach to back pain and post-surgical pain from tonsillectomies and wisdom teeth removal are driving forces behind the opioid epidemic
  • Insurance claims data reveal 60% of children between the ages of 1 and 18 with private insurance fill one or more opioid prescriptions after surgical tonsil removal. Dentists wrote 18.1 million prescriptions for opioids in 2017
  • Research shows opioids (including morphine, Vicodin, oxycodone and fentanyl) fail to control moderate to severe pain any better than over-the-counter drugs such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen
  • The American College of Physicians’ guideline for low back pain call for the use of heat, massage, acupuncture or chiropractic adjustments as first-line treatments. When drugs are desired, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or muscle relaxants should be used
  • While clinical practice guidelines call for nonpharmacological intervention for back pain, most insurance plans avoid paying for such treatments, favoring opioid treatment instead

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