To follow-up on the topic I discussed in my post last week on American drug use, I would like to discuss Maine’s problem with prescription drug use more this week. As I stated in my last post, Maine has a serious problem with prescription pain killers as we have the highest abuse rate of opiate use in the country. This coupled with the fact that the highest growing number of drug users are grouped between the ages of 12 and 17, it is safe to say that this is a significant developing crisis for our state.
Typically, when people consider the prevention of drug abuse/misuse, they believe that policing of the problem is the best option. The “War on Drugs,” is a good example of this which called for a tougher crack-down on drug trafficking and a tighter grip on our boarders particularly with Mexico. However, while this method may have restricted the in-flow of illegal drugs into our country, it did not deter people from seeking the effects drugs can provide.
As I stated before, with the passing of Medicare: Part D, there is now a much larger supply of legal, prescription drugs on the market because pharmaceutical companies want their “cut” of the profit which is now supplied by the federal government. This almost creates a “perfect storm” for an increase in prescription drug abuse as illegal drugs become harder to attain and legal drugs are just a doctor’s signature away.
How then, do we no address this problem created by government policy? I suggest with government policy. In my opinion, government is primarily in place to protect people, and if, for some reason, it turns out that it is actually harming its citizens, it must take steps to correct itself and revert the problems it is causing.
At the national level, the White House calls for a plan it believes will help to lower prescription drug abuse. The report of the “epidemic” of prescription drug abuse can be halted, or at least deterred, through education, tracking and monitoring, proper medication disposal, enforcement and prescription drug abuse plan goals.
This plan also calls for an increase in legislation that would allow for these programs to receive funding to reach their goals. These plans would spread across the US to all states which would increase the amount of treatment options available in all states and increase law enforcement knowledge and funding for prescription drug traffickers and abusers. The goal would be a decrease of 15% within the next year of prescription drug abuse throughout the country.
As Pain Management clinics throughout the country continue to be on the rise since the passing of Medicare: Part D, the abuse of prescription drug abuse from these clinics has also increase. The White House report refers to these types of clinics as “pill mills” or “doctor shoppers” who sell prescriptions of pain-killing drugs to people who abuse them. With the White House plan, this will hopefully be able to deter prescription drug abuse with enforce via tracking patients and doctors who prescribe opiates or other powerful prescription drugs frequently.
The most important thing that individuals can do, however, is simply to be more aware of what prescription drug abuse looks like. If you know of an individual who is dependent on prescription drugs, contact a doctor, local FDA representative or anonymous hotline to receive more advice on the situation and how to handle it. Each situation is obviously different and unique.
With proper public education of the epidemic of prescription drug abuse and actual enforcement of legislation that would prevent or deter prescription drug abuse, lives can be changed and saved. Do your part to help prevent an accidental overdose from prescription drug abuse. Educate yourself on the topic, especially if you know you will be relying on prescription drugs at some point in your future for proper medical reasons.