Past opioid use staggering, but correctable

Print Article

Most Americans are well aware of the opioid crisis fueled in past years by the rampant abuse of prescription painkillers. It’s been in the headlines again and again, and opioid addiction has been a heartless and often deadly intruder in many families.

A recent probe by The Washington Post put the crisis more clearly in focus, however, quantifying the staggering numbers of prescription painkillers that claimed nearly 100,000 lives in the United States between 2006 and 2012, a time-line analyzed by The Post. The newspaper’s research showed more than 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills were distributed and which companies manufactured them during that segment of the opioid crisis.

The Daily Inter Lake’s health-care reporter Kianna Gardner crunched the numbers further to find that more than 245 million prescription pain pills were supplied to Montana during that six-year period, with about 13 percent of the total funneled to Flathead County. Her report in today’s Inter Lake details the reasons for such rampant opioid use in Flathead and Northwest Montana. In a nutshell, this corner of the state has high numbers of veterans, disabled people and a burgeoning population of older residents. Those reasons make sense for higher opioid use.

What was startling, but perhaps not surprising, to learn was the pervasive campaigning by drug companies to prescribe pain meds to their patients. As Gardner’s article points out, “the over-prescribing of opioids and unabated manufacturing and distributing of the pills then continued until a crisis ensued.”

Thankfully, steps are being taken to reverse the culture of over-prescribing painkillers, and that includes work being done in Montana to stem opioid abuse. In 2011 the Montana Legislature authorized the Montana Prescription Drug Registry, an online tool that is helping providers. The use of the system was optional, but this year lawmakers passed legislation that takes effect in 2021, requiring physicians, with a few exceptions, to look at their patient’s history in the system prior to prescribing opioids and other drugs.

In Flathead County in recent years, Kalispell Regional and other clinics have moved to a system called Meditech, through which all prescriptions are presumably tracked through the system, allowing physicians and others to see what someone has been prescribed, how much they were prescribed, and when.

State officials are working with the Montana Primary Care Association, which is offering trainings for health-care providers on treating opioid use disorder and have also given community presentations. And with the assistance of the Montana Medical Association, the state will be releasing a series of continuing medical education videos for providers, including topics such as working with patients who have opioids as part of their treatment plan for chronic pain.

There’s much more work to be done, but these are all good steps toward quelling the overuse of prescription opioids and striving to stave off addictions.

Print Article

Read More Editorial

Time for transparency at United Way

December 08, 2019 at 2:24 pm | Daily Inter Lake Readers of the Daily Inter Lake are aware of alleged problems with our local United Way. The recent resignation of longtime United Way executive director Sherry Stevens seems to have amplified or she...

Comments

Read More

Jentz integral in shaping Kalispell’s growth

December 05, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Today is Kalispell Planning Director Tom Jentz’s last day on the job, and while we wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement, we’re sure going to miss him. On many occasions the Inter La...

Comments

Read More

Mental-health grant worthy of support

December 01, 2019 at 8:44 am | Daily Inter Lake Whether on a 911 call or in person, local law enforcement officers and emergency dispatchers often stand as the first line of intervention in a mental-health crisis incident — including threats of se...

Comments

Read More

AG Barr’s visit spotlights pair of important issues

November 28, 2019 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Northwest Montana law enforcement officers and tribal officials last week were afforded a rare sit-down with the country’s top cop to talk about two critical issues facing our state. During his firs...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 755-7000
727 East Idaho
Kalispell, MT 59901

©2019 Daily Inter Lake Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X