Contact: Jeff Emerson, 205-540-2247
MONTGOMERY – Alabama physicians are taking action to reduce the number and
potency of opioid prescriptions and to increase access to medication that rapidly
reverses opioid overdoses, according to a new report released Thursday from the
American Medical Association.
The report shows:
• Opioid prescriptions in Alabama decreased 41.6 percent from 2012-2021. From
2020-2021, opioid prescriptions in the state declined 1.6 percent, marking the
eighth consecutive year the number of opioid prescriptions in Alabama has
• The dosage strength of opioid prescriptions fell 52.7 percent from 2012-2021 and
dropped 6.5 percent between 2020-2021.
• Prescriptions of naloxone to treat patients at risk of an opioid overdose rose 851
percent between 2012-2021 and 35.4 from 2020-2021.
• Physicians and other healthcare professionals accessed the state’s Prescription
Drug Monitoring Program more than 5.5 million times in 2021, an increase of
three percent from 2020. Healthcare providers who dispense opioids in Alabama
must report the information to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to help
physicians detect the abuse and misuse of prescriptions.
The Medical Association of the State of Alabama was one of the first medical
associations in the country to offer a continuing education course to train physicians on
safely and effectively prescribing opioids. Since 2009, more than 8,000 prescribers in
Alabama have completed the course.
“Alabama physicians are advancing the fight against the opioid crisis by continuing to
reduce the number and potency of prescribed opioids in our state, and by furthering our
education on opioids,” said Dr. Julia Boothe, President of the Medical Association of the
State of Alabama. “While we are making good progress in these areas under a
physician’s control, Alabama is in a worsening overdose epidemic due primarily to
illicitly manufactured fentanyl, which is found in more than 75 percent of counterfeit pills
and other substances. No community is safe from this poison.”
Fentanyl overdose deaths in Alabama increased a staggering 135.9 percent from 2020
to 2021, (453 deaths in 2020 to 1,069 in 2021).
Dr. Bobby Mukkamala, chair of the American Medical Association’s Substance Use and
Pain Care Task Force, said fentanyl is “supercharging” the increase in fatal drug
“What is becoming painfully evident is that there are limits to what physicians can do.
We have dramatically increased training and changed our prescribing habits, reducing
the number of opioids prescribed while increasing access to naloxone, buprenorphine
and methadone. But illicitly manufactured fentanyl is supercharging this epidemic,” said
Resources for Help: Alabamians looking for a list of substance abuse treatment
services can go online to druguse.alabama.gov.