NE Doing Something Right When it Comes to Opioid Addiction

While other parts of the country are experiencing high rates of opioid addiction, a new Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association study shows opioid use in Nebraska is much lower than other parts of the country.

Why? 

“Nebraska providers are very aware of the threat of overdose in prescribing, and monitor the opioids their patients use,” Dr. Debra Esser, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska’s chief medical officer, said. “The Nebraska Medical Association has also done a good job of educating physicians and the state has a monitoring program where doctors can sign on and see a patient’s prescription history to determine if they have addiction problems.”

That awareness and education is evident in the study results.

Of all BCBSNE members who use a pharmacy, 16 percent filled an opioid prescription. The national statistic, according to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association study, is 20 percent. The study also showed that:

  • The highest long-term users of opioids in Nebraska are women over 45.

  • Rural areas in the state have a slightly higher rate of use than urban areas.  

  • Osteoarthritis is the largest driver of long-term opioid use in Nebraska.

According to Esser, long-term opioid use to treat osteoarthritis must be carefully monitored to prevent it from becoming a problem as the number of Nebraska’s elderly population grows.  

“I’m proud of Nebraska providers,” Esser said. “But we must remain vigilant and continue to do a good job.”

The state recently received a $2 million grant to focus on addiction treatment and prevention. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services will also use the money to buy and expand access to the critical life-saving drug line, Naloxone.  Naloxone is a nasal injection used to counteract opioid overdoses. HyVee and CHI Health have announced that Naloxone will be available without a prescription at stores across the state.

Read more about the opioid study

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