From Trussville Tribune staff reports
According to a press release by BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama the state is facing a crisis of opioid prescriptions and abuse. A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that Alabama ranks number 1 in opioid use.
A national study was conducted, called “America’s Opioid Epidemic and Its Effect on the Nation’s Commercially Insured Population.” The study states several statistics regarding opioid users in Alabama:
26 percent of BCBS’s commercially insured members filled at least one opioid prescription in 2015, compared to 21 percent nationally.
6.5 percent of BCBS members were on a long-duration opioid regimen in 2015, compared to 3.8 percent nationally.
16.4 per 1,000 members were diagnosed with opioid use disorder in Alabama in 2016, double that of 8.3 nationally.
29 percent of BCBS members with opioid use disorder received medication-assisted therapy in 2016, compared to 37 percent nationally.
According to the press release, BCBS is pushing a campaign to try to reduce opioid use among Alabamians by promoting public awareness. BCBS will partner with the Governor’s Council on Opioid Misuse and Addiction, the Alabama Department of Public Health along with other local and state agencies.
BCBS will provide CDC guidelines to physicians on appropriate prescription of opioid and pain relief medication as well as encouraging public outreach initiatives such as “National Drug Take-Back Day.”
“We recognize that it’s crucial for us to be a proactive partner in the fight against the opioid epidemic in Alabama,” said Dr. Anne Schmidt, Medical Director for BCBS. “We strongly support best practices and are collaborating with primary care doctors to appropriately apply recommendations and guidelines from the CDC.”