Raw Data: Opioid Prescriptions in the United States

As we all know, opioids are overprescribed in the US and there’s been a big push for many years to cut back. So how are we doing? Are doctors limiting opioids too much? Here’s some data from a recent JAMA article, “Trends and Patterns of Geographic Variation in Opioid Prescribing Practices.” First, the total number of opioid prescriptions:

Opioid prescriptions are down 25 percent since their peak in 2012. That’s fairly substantial. However, although the average strength of each prescription (measured in the equivalent of milligrams of morphine) has stayed roughly constant, the average length of an opioid prescription has been getting steadily longer. This means that the reduction in prescriptions isn’t quite as large as it seems at first glance:

This is down 16 percent since the 2012 peak. The number of prescriptions for less than three days has declined while the number for more than 30 days has increased. Here’s the same information by state:

More than half of the decline in opioid prescriptions came in a single year, 2017, and we don’t have figures for 2018 yet. If it shows another steep drop, it will suggest that we really have cut way back on opioid prescriptions.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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