The National Association of Drug Rehabilitation Centers, or NADCRC, released its latest report this week detailing how much painkillers have been prescribed to people suffering from chronic pain.
NADCrc President David M. Schubert said that more than 2.4 million people have received opioids from a variety of prescription drugs since January, including more than half of those prescribed painkillers by insurance plans.
“We are seeing a significant rise in the use of opioids in chronic pain,” said Schuert, adding that the number of people in treatment for chronic pain has nearly doubled since 2015.
“This is really a big deal.”
The number of opioid prescriptions in the U.S. jumped almost 9% in 2017, according to the NADcrc, which is a joint effort of the American Pain Foundation and the Pain Society.
The rise in opioid prescriptions came after a steep drop from 2016, when there were nearly 5.7 million opioid prescriptions written, according the NACRc.
In 2017, nearly a third of Americans reported that they had used opioids at least once in the previous month, according a Pew Research Center study.
The rise in prescription opioid use has sparked concern among advocates, who worry that the drugs are being given to people who don’t have the proper medical attention.
“The problem is not that there is no treatment,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the CEO of the National Association for Drug Rehabilitators.
“The problem with opioids is that they have been designed to treat chronic pain, but they are not designed to be used for long-term chronic pain.”
In 2016, more than 80% of Americans who took opioid painkillers reported that the medication caused their symptoms to worsen, according data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
About 90% of those who had opioids said that they were able to get better, but more than one-third of people said that the drug caused them to relapse or worse, according CDC data.