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Colorful half-timbered houses in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Comparing Opioid Issues Overseas

Obviously, America is in the midst of a major opioid crisis. But when you think about it, pain issues are common across the globe. So why are people becoming addicted at such an alarming rate exclusively here in the states? It’s a good question and one that merits further investigation on an international scale.

When you take a step back and look at the painkiller problem at large, you will see similar trends in regions like India and Australia. But focusing in on a country like Germany is much more interesting. This is an area where opioid dependencies are nonexistent. Any why is that so?

Recent reports have delved into this and found a few interesting trends on the way German doctors prescribe these types of meds. For starters, opioids are not a first line of defense when it comes to pain management. In that country, M.D.’s need special permission to give painkillers to a patient. To get to that step, they need to show that they’ve tried alternative treatments and that those methods have been unsuccessful.

It’s certainly an extra hurdle and one that German Center for Addiction Issues rep, Dr. Peter Raiser. says is very effective.

“Here in Germany, they prescribe opiates if all the other drugs don’t work,” he explained. “It’s much, much, much more difficult. One of the most important reasons we do not face a similar opioid crisis seems to be a more responsible and restrained practice of prescription.”

When comparing statistics, the amount of Germans living with an opioid addiction is less than half the amount of Americans. Many believe the country’s healthcare system is a major contributor to this progress.

Unlike here, German patients have much more accessibility to good doctors and at a much cheaper rate. With that in mind, it has been shown that they make follow up appointments frequently and are monitored more closely.

Treatment care is also much more affordable, which has helped cut down on Germany’s fatal overdose rate. In the U.S., for example. 198 Americans per million die of a drug overdose. Deadly German OD’s net out to just 21 per million.

Obviously, making a drastic change to the U.S. healthcare system isn’t anything that can happen overnight. But it could someday be a possibility and, judging from the example of Germany, an adjustment could make a major dent in overcoming this epidemic.