A new Blue Cross Blue Shield report issued Thursday said new opioid addiction diagnoses dropped among its customers for the first recorded time, which could indicate a turning point in the opioid addiction crisis.
Blue Cross, which insures 1 in 3 Americans, estimated about 2 million people in the U.S. have an opioid use disorder. However, the report found a 5 percent decline in opioid addiction diagnosis from 2013 to 2017.
“We are encouraged by these findings, but we remain vigilant,” Trent Haywood, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Blue Cross Blue Shield, said in a statement.
In fact, the report found that 6.2 in 1,000 Blue Cross members were diagnosed in 2016 with opioid use disorder. That rate dropped to 5.9 per 1,000 members last year.
The Blue Cross report said the total number of opioid medications filled by Blue Cross members dropped by 29 percent since 2013.
Brandeis University addiction policy expert Andrew Kolodny told BuzzFeed News the report is a sign “that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”
“Unfortunately though, the genie is out of the bottle,” Kolodny added. “Millions of Americans are now struggling with opioid addiction. Unless we do a better job of increasing access to effective treatment, overdose deaths will remain at record high levels and we’ll have to wait for this generation to die off before the crisis comes to an end.”