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Opioid Epidemic: State Laws Designed To Curb RX Pain Meds

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In a new effort to combat prescription pain meds being abused and addiction, some states are making legislative changes that aim to restrict the number of pills doctors can prescribe at one time.

Pain Meds

Using the law and education to fight an opioid epidemic

Massachusetts recently introduced a bill that is designed to address the state’s substance abuse problems. The Act Relative to Substance Use, Treatment, Education and Prevention, as it’s been called, restricts the amount of prescription pain medication that doctors can prescribe following surgery or injury to a seven-day supply. Additionally, it includes provisions for education, requiring public schools to verbally screen students in an effort to identify at-risk individuals and those who are suffering from a substance abuse disorder, and expands addiction education to school athletic and driver education programs.

Others take notice

Vermont and Maine, two other states hit hard by the opioid crisis, are considering similar measures. And, according to The New York Times, governors from around the country will meet later this year to discuss legislative ways to address and curb the use of prescription drugs.

Even more good news for these types of actions: medical societies and physician groups – who have traditionally opposed this kind of legislation – are on board with the recommended changes.

Speaking with The New York Times, Dr. Dennis Dimitri, president of the Massachusetts Medical society, said that physicians understand the gravity of the situation. “Usually we are opposed to carving anything in stone that has to do with medical practice,” he said. “But we are willing to go forward with this limitation because we recognize this is a unique public health crisis.”

“A health crisis”

Dr. Dimitri’s assessment is not hyperbolic; opioid addiction is a true health crisis. In 2014, death from overdoses of opioids (inclusive of both prescription painkillers and heroin) reached some 28,647 – a 14% increase from 2013.

The Massachusetts bill is a huge step to not only addressing the wide scale problem, but also a forward-thinking measure designed to educate the public about addiction.

Seeking help

Heroin and opioids make the news cycle a lot these days, and based on the aforementioned statistics, with good reason. But they are far from the only substances addicts struggle with. Cocaine, alcohol and even marijuana have the potential to be destructive to your life, and your health. If you are struggling with pain meds or a substance abuse problem, or if you know someone who is, The Watershed can help. Give us a call any time: 1-800-861-1768.

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