FACT FILE: Opioid prescribing rates | Behavioral Healthcare Executive Skip to content Skip to navigation

FACT FILE: Opioid prescribing rates

October 15, 2015
by Julie Miller, Editor in Chief
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According to a report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prescribing practices of opioids varied widely among states in 2013, even when there appeared to be no clinical reason for it.


A federal surveillance system collected 2013 data from eight states’ prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs): California, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Ohio and West Virginia. The PDMPs are meant to track patients and prescribers to identify individuals who might be abusing or diverting prescription opioid pain relievers, benzodiazepines and stimulants.


  • CDC  found that prescribing practices varied widely among the states, despite the fact that states show similar prevalence of the conditions the drugs are used to treat. The findings point to the need for improved prescribing practices, particularly for opioids.
  • A small minority of prescribers are responsible for a disproportionate share of opioid prescriptions.
  • People who receive opioid prescriptions often receive benzodiazepine prescriptions as well, despite the risk for adverse drug interactions.

State Distinctions

  • Louisiana ranked first in opioid prescribing, with about one prescription per resident written in 2013.
  • Delaware and Maine ranked highest in mean daily dosage of opiods.
  • In Delaware, the top 1 percent of prescribers wrote 1 in 4 opioid prescriptions.
  • Multiple-provider episode rates—defined as five or more prescribers for one patient—were highest in Ohio and lowest in Louisiana.


For more information about how opioid prescribing rates varied among states and demographic groups, visit CDC.