New state rules beginning this month, November 2018, are designed to ameliorate the opioid addiction crisis that has become a serious problem in America.
The Washington State Department of Health estimates that greater than 300,000 people in the state are abusing painkillers. This abuse is also a gateway to heroin use, with studies showing that greater than half of heroin users were first addicted to opioids.
After a year of investigation and research, these new guidelines were created to help alleviate the growing opioid medication crisis. The new rules do not make it illegal or forbidden to prescribe or receive opioid medication, but set guidelines and limitations for patients with chronic pain who need the medication to allow them to function including at work and as a parent. The limitations however, help medical providers balance the need to avoid creating opioid dependence in patients who have less than chronic pain (under 12 weeks) and also to help monitor and restrict the medication in chronic pain patients who require the medication to function.
The Washington State Department of Health has posted videos and other information to help practitioners and patients to understand the new guidelines. These videos can be found here.