The report analyzed retail prescription data at the county level from 2006 to 2015.
The amount of opioid painkillers prescribed in the United States peaked in 2010, a federal analysis has found, with prescriptions for higher, more risky doses dropping the most sharply - by 41 percent - since then. The average daily morphine-equivalent dose per prescription has declined each year since 2006.
However, it was noted that the opioid prescription rate in 2015 was three times higher than the rate reported in 1999.
The new CDC report also uncovered widely varying opioid prescribing patterns at the county level.
She pointed to the Republican-sponsored Senate bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which the Congressional Budget Office said would increase the number of people without health insurance by 22 million by 2026, as one of the greatest looming threats to addiction treatment in America. It emphasized the role of non-opioid therapies as first-line treatment for tackling chronic pain in adults.
That may seem like good news, but it is still triple the rate of prescriptions in 1999 and those in some European countries. If opioids are prescribed, the CDC recommends the duration of the prescription should be short - three days or less - and dose amounts should be as low as possible to achieve adequate pain relief. There was overall an 18 percent drop in prescribing.
Last year, the CDC released guidelines advising doctors to not prescribe more than three days' worth of opioids for most patients. Researchers added that opioids are more heavily prescribed in counties where arthritis and diabetes rates are greater than average.
For instance, a CDC map showing prescription rates per person revealed that rates in California's more rural and less populated northern counties dwarfed those in nearly all other parts of the state. These guidelines are applicable for health systems, states, and insurers as well says the CDC. And although just less than 7% of all prescriptions exceed a month's dosage, using for 31 days or more increased the chances of long-term opioid use to 29.9%. However, in 17 of the state's 23 counties, plus Baltimore City, opioid prescriptions were above the national average.
"Even though there is improvement in prescribing in today's report, we still see too many given too much for too long".
While the research shows progress, opioids are still being massively over-prescribed, said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of opioid policy research at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.
The report praised Ohio, Kentucky and Florida as states in which significant reductions have occurred, thanks to prescription monitoring and public health programs that target hot spots and promote alternative means to relieve chronic pain.style="text-align: center;"