Prevention and Treatment of Prescription Drug Abuse

What will you do when you find that someone you love abuses prescription drugs and is actually addicted to it? Prescription drug abuse is not a new problem, and continuous monitoring and control is needed to check it.

Many people believe prescription drug is safer and will not produce undesirable effects as it is prescribed by doctors, but it causes compulsive drug seeking and use that is harmful for the addict as well as people around him. Such medications are dangerous and put the users at various physical and mental health-related risks, along with overdose, especially when taken with alcohol.

More than 60 people reportedly die every day in the United States from prescription drug overdoses. Approximately 6.5 million people in the US abused prescription drugs in 2013, which was more than double the number of people who abused heroin, cocaine and hallucinogens in combination. With such statistics, California is now becoming more health-centric by introducing new reforms and spreading awareness among its people.

Are doctors to blame for prescription drug abuse?

Physicians and pharmacists play an important role in identifying and preventing prescription drug abuse. Physicians are the first point of contact for patients who come to them for treatment of various ailments. Physicians should be vigilant enough to identify regular visitors and screen them for abuse risk by checking past records. However, in a bid to obtain multiple prescriptions and avoid being caught, abusers may move from one provider to another.

In this advanced age of information, communication and technology (ICT), storage and tracking of data has become much easier. Pharmacies now have patient data and billing information that can help them record a patient’s medication schedule. However, they need to be watchful about a patient’s alterations and abuse of drugs and by doing so, they can save many people from indulging into addiction. Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) can be one of the best bets in helping physicians identify patients and their tendencies toward addiction and abuse.

Government’s role in curbing addiction risk

With the aim to help patients grappling with prescription drug abuse, Democratic Assembly member Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) introduced bill AB 623 to make prescriptions for opioid medications harder. The bill required physicians to prescribe abuse-deterrent formulation (ADF) opioids, which offer the same pain relief as conventional opioids. This might deter patients to manipulate and abuse drugs prescribed by physicians.

Dr Wood believes that AB 623 will make it easier for doctors to monitor a patient’s health graph by prescribing less than a 30-day supply of opioids. This may also prevent theft and misuse of pills commonly available over the counter. Pharmacists also need to counsel patients regarding storage and disposal of opioids and make them aware about the risks that drive addiction.

It’s critical that the patient understands the potential risks associated with the long-term use of prescription drugs. Educating patients about this is an important step toward preventing big health issues in the future. You may also inform your physician about your medical history and other medicines or supplements you are taking. Also remember not to consume unused and expired medicines, as per rules laid down by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines.