Health care providers in some states prescribed far more painkillers than those in other states in 2012.
•Southern states had the most prescriptions per person for painkillers, especially Alabama, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
•The Northeast, especially Maine and New Hampshire, had the most prescriptions per person for long-acting and high-dose painkillers.
•Nearly 22 times as many prescriptions were written for oxymorphone (a specific type of painkiller) in Tennessee as were written in Minnesota.
What might be causing this?
•Health care providers in different parts of the country don’t agree on when to use prescription painkillers and how much to prescribe.
•Some of the increased demand for prescription painkillers is from people who use them nonmedically (using drugs without a prescription or just for the high they cause), sell them, or get them from multiple prescribers at the same time.
•Many states report problems with for-profit, high-volume pain clinics (so-called “pill mills”) that prescribe large quantities of painkillers to people who don’t need them medically.
Some states have more painkiller prescriptions per person than others.