Report: Doctors writing fewer opioid prescriptions, overdose deaths on the rise

Eau Claire A recent state report says while doctors are writing fewer prescriptions for painkillers deaths from opioid overdoses continue to rise.

In 2017 state health officials says there were more than 900 overdose deaths that’s despite controlled substance prescribing guidelines issued by the Wisconsin Medical Examining board in January.

The guideline ensures doctors are required to check a state database tracking prescriptions. It's a change that went into effect in March of 2017.

Doctors say the change has helped them prescribe less but overdosing numbers are still rising

The L.E. Phillips Libertas Treatment Center in Chippewa Falls says that's due to patients seeking substitute drugs to make up for the drop in prescriptions. That includes taking drugs like heroin that can contain dangerous and fatal chemicals like fentanyl.

Kristi Burdick with the treatment center and Prevea Behavior Care said, “Unfortunately we don't have as many treatment facilities as we'd like across the state but if we can recognize the problem and the addicts can recognize their problem and seek help then we have some outpatient resources and facilities to help deal with their addictions.”

Burdick also says the center is looking at alternative treatments for pain management like acupuncture and essential oils for patients with chronic pain who had previously taken opioid painkillers.