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Wise Prescription Management is Key to Battling the Opiate Addiction Epidemic

The newest study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies prescription drug abuse as an epidemic in America. It also points to the growing number of physicians prescribing painkillers as one of the main sources of the epidemic.

“Many abusers of opioid pain relievers are going directly to doctors for their drugs,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Health care providers need to screen for abuse risk and prescribe judiciously by checking past records in state prescription drug monitoring programs. It’s time we stop the source and treat the troubled.”

Increased Regulations for Prescription Drugs 

In order to battle the abuse of prescription medications, federal and state governments have implemented more regulations on the sale of these types of medications. Not only are manufacturers encouraged to develop abuse-deterrent forms of these drugs, but the government is improving its methods for tracking opiate use. Many states have established prescription drug monitoring databases which are designed to prevent patients from doctor shopping. Educational programs are also being created and used in target areas to counsel patients on the safe use of prescription painkillers.

Providing Effective Pain Relief 

An interview recently featured on PBS gave a different view of the painkiller epidemic. Bob Twillman, of the American Academy of Pain Management, warned that we not get too caught up in regulations and forget about those that struggle with chronic pain. The Institute of Medicine estimates that over 100 million Americans suffer from some form of chronic pain. Twillman urged lawmakers to not make it so difficult to get prescription painkillers that people are left suffering with their unmanaged chronic pain.

Still, as the opiate epidemic is not showing any sign of slowing, many people believe something has to be done. Dr. Andrew Kolodny, director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, also weighed in on the PBS interview. He summed it up, “If we want to preserve access to opioids so that they’re available for all of us when we need them, we need to bring this epidemic under control. And that may not happen until doctors and dentists begin to prescribe more cautiously.”

Listen to the entire interview here (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/u-s-regulate-powerful-painkillers/), and then let us know how you think our country should balance the need for pain management with the need for addiction prevention.

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