The American College of Physicians (ACP) released a set of recommendations for prescription drugs. The policy initiatives it includes are aimed at reducing what the ACP calls “significant human and financial costs related to prescription drug abuse.” The paper points to powerful statistics that show prescription drug addiction is a growing and dangerous issue in the United States, and provides a new set of proposals for preventing addiction.
The role of doctors and importance of education
Prescription drug abuse is serious problem in the United States, and more people than ever are dying from overdoses. According to a Center for Disease Control (CDC) report from July 2013, deaths from prescription drug overdoses in women alone have risen an alarming 400% since 1999.
In the Annals of Internal Medicine Journal, the ACP discusses its support for education on prescription drug abuse, both for patients and medical professionals. Because prescribers are at the forefront of the issue, the organization says doctors play a crucial role in ensuring safe prescription drug use.
Research needed for Rx addiction causes and treatments
In addition to education, the ACP establishes its support for prescription drug addiction research. It suggests that identifying both causes and treatments for prescription drug addictions using a medical model could be more effective than a criminal one. Aside from the previously mentioned startling death toll numbers, it cites that drug addictions result in an astounding $534 billion in annual taxpayer costs, including preventable healthcare and law enforcement.
A call for a national monitoring program
Beyond research and treatment, the ACP says that prevention is the name of the game, describing it as a critical component “essential to eradicating drug abuse in our society.” To this end, the ACP proposes a National Drug Monitoring Program. The program, it suggests, would be less about law enforcement, and more directed at aiding medical professionals, allowing them to check to see if their patients are “doctor shoppers” before writing or filling prescriptions with high potential for abuse.
Offering alternatives to prescription drugs
Along the same lines as prevention, the ACP encourages doctors to consider alternative therapies for pain management, separate and apart from controlled substances. Besides non-addictive medications, the ACP suggests both physical therapy and psychotherapy, and advocates that strong relationships between patients and doctors can create a solid foundation for a supportive care system.
While prescription drugs are often originally prescribed for legitimate purposes, they carry a high potential for abuse, and subsequently addiction. If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction to painkillers or other prescription drugs, The Watershed can help: 1-800-861-1768.