SEATTLE – Gov. Jay Inslee signed a new bill into law Tuesday that aims to shed light on how doctors over-prescribed opioids that got millions of people hooked, with some of them turning to a cheaper, more accessible option in heroin. The new law also puts life-saving tools in reach to keep addicts from overdosing.
“When I took that very first pill, from that moment on I just liked it,” said former opioid addict Ashley Wise.
We first introduced you to Ashley Wise in February. A woman who had everything going for her until she lost two loved ones and tore her rotator cuff. A prescription for Vicodin got her hooked on opioids.
“I had everything from Vicodins all the way up to OxyContin I remember having them at the same time and I was also taking tramadol,” said Wise.
Ashley’s story is one that those fighting the opioid crisis have heard too many times. For some addicts, they say they started on legally prescribed prescription drugs and then advanced to the street drug, heroin.
“There was a time in our clinic when we prescribed way too many opioids for the wrong reason,” said Sea Mar Community Health Dr. Julian Perez.
But now Perez says they’ve changed their practices. Posted on the wall of every community health center is a list of opioids they no longer prescribe for long-term pain mitigation. It’s this change in policy that’s part of a new law Inslee signed Tuesday.
“If we know that opioids do not help with chronic pain, we shouldn’t use them,” said Perez.
Part of the law aims to re-educate doctors on how to prescribe opioids. The law also gives them access to a website where they can find out what a patient has been prescribed, by which physician, and where they’re getting it filled.
“If we see that there’s five or six doctors that have prescribed to them within the space of a month and they’ve got a thousand or 800 pills at home that’s clearly someone who’s not being honest with us,” said Perez.
While the new law focuses on preventing new addicts, Perez says, it also helps to addicts from overdosing. He says it will create more options for first responders to get access to naloxone, the opioid overdose antidote.
Perez says some of the blame falls in the hands of drug makers. The city of Everett is now suing the manufacturer of oxycontin. Perez says the company should accept some blame for the opioid crisis and also help to pay for solutions.