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Prescription Drug Abuse Curbed by Monitoring Programs

Prescription drug abuse is still a major problem in the US.

Prescription drug abuse is still a major problem in the US.

Nearly all of the states in the country now have or are in the process of implementing Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP), which are electronic data-sharing systems designed to reduce the current escalation of the abuse and addiction to pharmaceuticals.

As more of the nation continues to update into the digital age, so has the healthcare industry, which now has more than half of its providers using electronic health records.

A recent study prepared for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Adminstration (SAMHSA) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) by the MITRE Corporation identified dozens of areas wehre PDMPs can be improved in their functions at the state level.

One of the recommendations was for states to increase the availability or user access to the information. For example, rather than just law enforcement officials and pharmacists, giving more doctors access to watch out for possible “doctor shoppers” would be beneficial to curbing prescription drug abuse. This would go for physicians as well as dentists and any other health practitioners with prescribing rights assigned by the DEA.

Additional recommendations included having better integrational systems and streamlining the registration process, among several other categories.

So why is all this necessary?

Prescription drug use is continuing to increase at alarming rates, and they have become the deadliest drugs in many states throughout the country. The relatively easy access without PDMPs allows for simple attainment, sale and use of these drugs. People who are either personally addicted to prescription drugs or are selling them on the black market fraudulently obtain prescriptions for pills and then use them to get the drugs, get a legitimate prescription from one doctor and then try and fill it at multiple pharmacies or visit several doctors for the same condition and get prescriptions from each before filling them at different locations. The point is so that red flags will be thrown up much earlier when these actions occur and cut down on this activity.

Of course reducing access to prescription drugs alone isn’t enough. Cutting down supply is never a complete answer as long as there is a demand. The plan must also include effective prevention measures, which are being used in some schools and community anti-drug coalitions across the country and must be increased as well.

The third spoke to the wheel of reducing prescription drug abuse and addiction is to provide more access to successful treatment options. The continuum of care for substance abuse, especially prescription drugs, often includes some form of intervention, a medical detoxification, inpatient rehabilitation program, outpatient care, support groups and follow-up activity.

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