Expecting to see a painkiller prescription after your child’s surgery? It’s becoming much less frequent these days.

Experts are now discouraged from using addictive opioid medications to prevent an addiction, and a new study shows doctors are starting to make this change to their practice.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania looked at patients under 18 after they received surgery, who previously did not take opioids. The study occurred between 2014 and 2019 and included more than 120,000 children.

In those six years, there was a decrease in the percentage of children who had an opioid prescription in all age groups – 38% for adolescents, 53% for school-aged children, and 62% for preschool aged children. Of the opioids that were prescribed, there was also a decrease in the duration of prescription and the total amount of medication. 

For some very sensitive surgeries, strong painkillers are just unavoidable. But now doctors across the U.S. are trying to reduce prescriptions that used to be the norm, hoping to prevent a potentially deadly addiction.