It’s clear that opioid abuse is an epidemic in our country. In 2014, SAMHSA reported that nearly 2 million Americans had an addiction to prescription painkillers, and another 586,000 were addicted to heroin. Furthermore, the opioid abuse epidemic is behind the increase in overdose deaths. Over 18,000 overdose deaths were related to prescription painkillers in 2014, and over 10,000 were related to heroin. These are not numbers that we like to see. These are sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, parents, etc. being taken from their families.
So what is being done about the opioid abuse epidemic?
image source @practicepainmanagement
While it may not seem like there are many steps being taken to reduce the problem, the reality is that there are. It just takes time for the proper protocols to be rolled out and take effect.
For now, let’s take a look at the steps the federal government is taking to gain control of the opioid abuse problem.
Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs
Prescription drug monitoring programs, or PDMPs, are highly effective tools that the government uses to reduce the overprescribing of painkillers. These programs collect, monitor and analyze dispensing data that is provided by pharmacies and dispensing practitioners. The purpose of PDMPs is to watch for suspected abuse in individual patients and the overprescribing of drugs in certain doctors.
Primary prevention is one of the best ways to control the misuse of prescription painkillers. More people are aware of the dangers of narcotics, but many still fail to realize their potential for addiction. Because these medications can be prescribed by a doctor, some assume they must be safe. Educational initiatives are intended to educate people on the dangers of narcotics, their risk for addiction and how to prevent misuse.
Aggressive Law Enforcement
Pill mills are becoming a thing of the past. It’s a shame they’ve done so much damage, but at least law enforcement is taking the appropriate steps to prevent them from popping up in our communities.
Laws differ at the state level. In Florida, for example, where pill mills were most prevalent, laws have limited pharmacies to filling no more than three days of opioids. They have also made it illegal for doctors to operate an on-site pharmacy while also prescribing pain pills.
These are just a few of the ways that the federal government is cracking down on the opioid abuse epidemic. We hope to see these efforts continue in order to save more lives.
Are you or a loved one suffering from addiction to prescription painkillers or heroin? The River Source is experienced in treating opioid addiction. Call us today to start your journey.