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Fatalities due to Prescription Drug Abuse on the Rise, Studies Show
“Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States,” the CDCP said. These prescription drugs include the so-called opioid analgesics that suppress the person’s perception of pain, and psychiatric drugs which are available in various forms such as antipsychotics, antidepressants, hallucinogens, mood stabilizers, stimulants, anti-anxiety drugs and hypnotics.
And in most cases, these prescription drugs, which are being used by approximately 50 million Americans, can be obtained without a prescription from a doctor. In fact in the last decade there were deaths involving the overdose of opioid analgesics than heroin and cocaine combined, the CDCP said. In a separate study by the Trust for America’s Health, a nonprofit organization that studies U.S. health policies, about 6.1 million people abuse prescription pills.
Due to the serious threat of prescription drug abuse, the medical sector is finding ways to control what they called an “epidemic.” “We’ve been struck how quickly this probably has emerged … it warrants a strong public health response,” says Andrea Gielen, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy in Baltimore, who served as a consultant for the Trust for America’s Health report. “We’re concerned about preventing misuse or overdoses, which are very real and heart-wrenching problems that have been skyrocketing recently.”
In response to this growing medical problem, one major doctors’ organization has called upon its members to practice greater caution and restraint when prescribing such medications. The American College of Physicians has recommended both procedural and clinical changes to discourage abusers of common prescription drugs. The organization has expressed the need for public education on the dangers and consequences of both medical and non-medical use of prescription drugs.
The ACP also supports the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) where medical providers can check before they write prescriptions for substances which have high potential for abuse.
But more than these moves, medical schools should address the need to provide proper education to medical students in the field of addiction. “There is a fundamental lack of education about addiction medicine and treating patients with substance use disorder provided in medical school, as well as internships and residency programs,” according to Janina Kean, substance abuse and addiction expert.
Studies show that the most common misused prescription drugs are painkillers, depressants and stimulants. Men ages 25 to 54 are most likely to abuse these drugs but the number of women abusers are increasing. According to the Trust for America’s Health report, every state has a monitoring program for prescription drugs but the strategies are often broad, or fail due to funding and capability.
Another monitoring problem is that some state providers do not have access to Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, according to Jeffrey Levy, executive director of Trust for America’s Health. PDMP are electronic databases used to track prescriptions by patients and can serve as an alarm in case of misuse as it can track multiple prescriptions by different doctors.
Due to this alarming development, the U.S. government in 2011 embarked on a multi-agency plan to reduce the prescription drug abuse epidemic in the country. One of the initiatives is an FDA-backed education program that focuses on the reduction of misuse and misprescription of opioids.
A collaborative effort involving agencies of the departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, Defense, and other, the plan provided for a national framework to reduce the use of prescription drugs and the diversion of prescription drugs for recreational use.
“The toll our nation’s prescription drug abuse epidemic has taken in communities nationwide is devastating,” Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said. “We share a responsibility to protect our communities from the damage done by prescription drug abuse.”
Together with the White House plan, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a risk reduction program for all extended-release and long-acting opioid medications. Called Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, it focuses primarily on educating medical practitioners about proper pain management, how to select patients, and other matters pertaining to the improvement of patient awareness as to how to use these drugs safely.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the economic costs of substance abuse and addiction alone are estimated to exceed a half trillion dollars annually in the United States due to health care expenditures, lost productivity, and crime.
Since scientific research has shown that alcohol and other drugs can affect brain structure and function, addiction is now understood to be a brain disease. With the advances in technology brain imaging science can now see inside the brain of an addicted person and pinpoint the parts of the brain affected by drugs of abuse. Because of this knowledge, new approaches to prevention and treatment of addiction have started to surface.
One healthcare solutions development company has developed a high effective addiction treatment program called the Start Fresh Program that is used by various independently owned licensed addiction clinics throughout the country to treat alcoholism and select opioid addictions.
Developed by BioCorRx, Inc. (http://www.startfreshprogram.com/) , The Start Fresh Program (SFP) consists of two components; one is the administration of the highly effective, propriety implant compound of the FDA-approved drug naltrexone, which significantly reduces cravings for alcohol and opiates, and the life-coaching program that is tailored specifically to substance abuse addicts. The implant is administered as an outpatient procedure, thus in most cases, patients do not need to miss more than one day of work, while the life-coaching program can be privately done.
BioCorRx’s revolutionary Start Fresh Program has an 85% success rate as reported by patients in routine telephone and face-to-face interviews conducted by the independently owned and operated clinics using the SFP.