Poll: Americans blame users and doctors for painkiller problem

WASHINGTON — The public is speaking out on new guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to cut the use of strong prescription painkillers.

A new poll of more than 1,000 randomly selected adults by the medical news site STAT and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health shows most support the CDC initiative to get doctors to prescribe smaller doses of opioids for shorter periods of time whenever possible.

The CDC is urging doctors to give patients no more than a three-day supply for acute pain — the kind that is likely to be short-lived — and to look for alternative treatments for chronic conditions where the pain lingers.

Seven in 10 of those surveyed said they agree with the recommendations, although 55 percent voiced concern that they might make it too hard for people who really need prescription pain medications to get them.

The poll found the public was split on who was to blame for the epidemic of prescription opioid abuse in the U.S. Thirty-seven percent blamed the users, but almost as many — 34 percent — said doctors are responsible because they are writing too many inappropriate prescriptions.

The CDC says health care providers in 2012 wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid painkillers — enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills.

Sandy Kozel

Sandy Kozel is an anchor at WTOP. She came to WTOP after a long career as an anchor/correspondent with the Associated Press. She also worked in local radio in the Cleveland area — and in Buffalo, where she was an award-winning anchor and reporter with WGR Radio and entertainment reporter for WGRZ-TV

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