Starting this week, doctors in Delaware have new rules governing how they prescribe opiates.
The regulations are designed to curb opiate addiction, and apply to both chronic and short-term pain management.
Doctors now have to take extra steps if prescribing opiates for more than seven days, like searching a patient’s prescription history and ordering a drug screening.
David Mangler of the state’s Division of Professional Regulation said this won’t prevent doctors from prescribing opiates, but it should cause them to consider alternatives.
“As they’re prescribing, doctors should be forced to slow down and ask whether a lesser quantity at lower dose could be just as appropriate,” he said.
The regulations don’t apply to people with cancer or in hospice care but they do require chronic pain patients to develop a treatment plan with their doctor and take a drug test every six months.
Delaware has one of the nation’s highest opiate prescription rates in the nation, with eight prescriptions for every 10 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The CDC also finds that prescription opiates are involved in more overdose deaths than any other drug.