Using 2012 data, the CDC calculated opioid pain reliever prescription rates at the national and state level. Nationally, there were 82.5 opioid pain reliever prescriptions for every 100 Americans. But, the opioid pain reliever prescription rate varied 2.7 fold at the state level, with the highest rates in the South. In Alabama, which had the highest rate, there were 143 painkiller prescriptions for every 100 people.
Unlike its neighbors, Florida’s opioid pain reliever prescription rate was on the low end of the spectrum. Florida was once considered the center of illegal prescription drug sales, but its aggressive measures against prescription drug abuse demonstrate how state policy can reduce improper prescribing. In 2010, Florida began requiring pain clinics to register with the state, and taking action against “pill-mills” and inappropriate prescribers. In 2011, the state banned doctors from dispensing narcotics from their offices and clinics, though with a few exceptions, and started a prescription drug monitoring system. Between 2010 and 2012, the rate of fatal overdoses fell by 23 percent, and the rate of fatal oxycodone overdoses declined more than 50 percent.