Opioid prescriptions decline by 10 percent in Wisconsin

A new report shows a 10 percent drop in the number of opioid prescriptions dispensed over the past year in the state of Wisconsin. Providers say there are many reasons why there’s a decline in prescriptions and they hope to build upon this progress.

There’s been a lot of change since Dr. Cheri Olson started practicing medicine nearly 30 years ago.

“When I first went through training we never prescribed opioids,” said Olson, a family physician for Mayo Clinic Health System.

But that changed in the 1990’s.

“Untreated pain was considered an epidemic,” Olson said.

Doctors started prescribing opioids for non-cancer related pain conditions.

“We’ve really seen the pendulum swing as we’ve seen the harm these drugs have done,” said Dr. Chris Eberlein of Gundersen Health System.

Providers are now required to enter all prescriptions for opioid and controlled substances into one system.

“We’re technically required to check the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program in the state to see if anyone else has been prescribing these medications,” Eberlein said.

This also can prevent people from mixing narcotics or sedatives with opioids.

“When you add those two together it increases your risk of death from narcotics substantially,” Eberlein said.

These doctors believe the decline of prescriptions being issued around the state can be linked back to provider education, including the alternatives.

“Both drug techniques like other medications that aren’t opioids and also non-drug techniques like yoga and weight loss,” Olson said.

Eberlein doesn’t believe this will take away from care, rather patients will be safer and have better treatment methods.

“I think in the end, I think patients are going to be getting better care than they were five years ago,” Eberlein said.