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  • Opioid Dependence Claims Up by More Than 3,000% Since 2007

    A new report on the opioid crisis—this one focused on private insurance data--presents yet another litany of chilling statistics on the reach of the epidemic, this time including a startling 3,203% increase in claims related to opioid dependence from 2007 to 2014.

    The latest report, conducted by the nonprofit FAIR Health, is the result of an analysis of the organization's collection of more than 20 billion privately billed health care claims. Like previous research, the FAIR Health report points to a public health crisis that has ballooned rapidly, and is affecting certain age groups and regions disproportionately.

    In addition to the 3,000% leap in opioid dependence diagnoses, the FAIR Health report also includes other alarming statistics. Among them:

    • While "opioid dependence" claims rose by more than 3,000%, claims of "opioid abuse" rose by 317% between 2007 and 2014. (The distinction between opioid "dependence" and "abuse" may no longer be relevant in the wake of a 2014 revision to the primary diagnosis guidelines, which now describe a single continuum labelled "substance use disorder.")
    • Claims listing pregnancy drug dependence diagnoses rose 511% between 2007 and 2014; the number of babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome—the condition caused by opioid abuse by the mother during pregnancy—rose by nearly 300% between 2000 and 2009.
    • Between 2007 and 2014, 69% of the claim lines for opioid dependence were for individuals aged 19-35, a disproportionate share that FAIR Health believes may be related to the fact that the rate of controlled substance prescriptions written for adolescents and young adults nearly doubled from 1994 to 2007.
    • The 19-35-year-old group accounted for 78% of diagnosed heroin overdoses between 2009 and 2014.
    • From 2002-2004 to 2011-2013, heroin use grew by 100% among females, compared with 50% among males. "Women are more likely than men to experience chronic pain, be prescribed pain relievers, and be given higher doses," write report authors. "They are likely to use the medications for longer periods and become dependent more quickly."
    • Between 2007 and 2014, 67% of the opioid dependence claims in the 19-35 age group were for men and 33% for women; in the 46-55 age group, that share shifted to 55% for men, 45% for women.
    • The states that reported the opioid dependence diagnoses at the highest rates compared with other substance abuse and dependence diagnoses were: California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.

    APTA has added its voice to the effort to curb opioid abuse through its national #ChoosePT campaign, an initiative to promote physical therapy as a safe and effective alternative to the use of opioids in the treatment of pain. Housed at MoveForwardPT.com/ChoosePT, the #ChoosePT campaign will unfold throughout 2016 and include national online advertising, TV and radio public service announcements, and other targeted advertising and media outreach. APTA is also a member of the White House’s working group addressing the opioid epidemic.


    • A large number of my clinic's pts. pain was made worse by traditional PT which primarily uses exercise. We are hardly touching our patients therapeutically anymore. And much that I read coming from PT publications is indicating that PT's are not addressing pain but ignoring the pain and concentrating on strength, motion and functioning, all very important. But ignoring the pain or making pain worse with the illusion that PT is supposed to hurt does not really work to help the person's pain. I think pts. often get better despite well intended therapy. Richard Fowler,PT

      Posted by Richard Fowler on 8/3/2016 5:23 PM

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