The opioid crisis has affected millions of people throughout the United States. Last year, President Donald Trump declared the prevalence of opioid addiction a national emergency. The over-prescription of opioids for disproportionately mild injuries contributed to the crisis. In response, many doctors—including over 1,000 in North Carolina alone—say that they have stopped prescribing opioids altogether.

Curbing the opioid epidemic, one doctor at a time

According to the North Carolina Medical Board, numerous patients throughout North Carolina say that their doctors have stopped prescribing opioids for pain. The board surveyed its members and found that of the 2,661 physicians who responded, 43 percent say that they have completely ceased prescribing opioids.

Why have so many doctors stopped?

Survey respondents give several reasons for their decision to stop writing opioid prescriptions. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control released a guideline regarding prescription opioids. Many of the doctors who now refrain from prescribing the drugs cite this as their reason. Others cite North Carolina’s STOP Act, a 2017 law that limits the number of opioids for acute pain. Doctors’ over-prescription of opioids for acute pain was one major factor for the boom in opioid addiction in recent years.

Criminal charges and opioids

These measures may reduce the prevalence of opioid abuse in North Carolina. Many people who abuse opioids do so because their addictions compel them to. However, North Carolina authorities often disregard the presence of addiction in drug possession or trafficking cases. Even if someone is addicted to a prescription opioid like fentanyl or a street opioid like heroin, they may still face criminal charges. Anyone who has been charged with a drug-related crime may wish to consider their legal options and seek treatment.