Prescribing Policies: States Confront Opioid Overdose Epidemic



Photo of a prescription bottleResponsible for 115 deaths each day, the opioid epidemic continues to devastate the nation. The death rate from these drugs has nearly quadrupled since 1999, and continues to rise. Nearly half of these opioid-related deaths—46 each day— involved a prescription opioid, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prescription opioids (e.g., oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone) are used to treat moderate to severe pain, and can provide effective pain management when prescribed and taken as directed. However, prescription opioids can also be misused and lead to addiction, death, job loss and a host of other problems, taking a significant human and financial toll on individuals, families, communities and states.

State lawmakers are crafting innovative policies—engaging health, criminal justice, human services and other sectors—to address this public health crisis while also ensuring appropriate access to pain management. This report provides an overview of state legislation setting guidelines for, or limits on, opioid prescriptions. As of Octoberl 2018, at least 33 states have enacted legislation related to opioid prescription limits.