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How States Are Tackling the Problem of Prescription Drug Abuse

 The abuse of prescription drugs is quickly on the rise and many states don’t know what to do to combat this epidemic. Prescription drug-related deaths are also on the rise and are starting to outnumber deaths related to both heroin and cocaine combined. And only about 1 in 10 Americans receive treatment for substance abuse disorder.

Key Recommendations For The States


In an effort to get more people to seek out prescription drug addiction treatment, the Prescription Drug Abuse Report conducted by Trust For America’s Health recommends the following strategies to help curb the abuse of prescription drugs.


● Educating the public as to the risks of prescription drug abuse to prevent initial misuse.

● Increasing knowledge about the proper storage of medication and disposal of unused medication, such as through the use of take-back programs.

● Making rescue medications more widely available to at-risk individuals, as well as providing immunity to those who are seeking help for their addictions.

● Educating healthcare providers and prescribers on how specific medications can be misused and how to identify patients who are in need of treatment.

● Improving Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs so that they can be incorporated into electronic health records in real-time so that patients in need of treatment can be connected to the proper programs.


Key Findings From The Report


The reason these recommendations have been suggested is because of the details that came out of the report. A majority of the states don’t have a lot of infrastructure in place to handle the prescription drug abuse situation, including:


● Only 24 of the states are participating in Medicaid expansion to cover substance abuse treatment

● About 1/3 of the states have laws in place to provide a degree of immunity to criminal charges for those who are seeking help or helping others experiencing an overdose

● A little over 1/3 of the states have laws to expand access to naloxone ( a prescription drug used to counteract an overdose)

● Only 32 states require the presentation of ID to pharmacists when dispensing a controlled substance

● Less than half of the states have laws in place requiring doctors/healthcare providers to have further education regarding prescription pain medication


How Well The States Are Doing


According to the report, each state was given a score depending on what programs they had in place to combat the prescription drug epidemic. They were given one point for each indicator, and no points if they did not have the indicator, giving them a score somewhere between 0 and 10.

At the top of the list were New Mexico and Vermont with 10 points; at the bottom was South Dakota with 2 points.


Prescription drug abuse has become a real problem over the past ten years, and it will be a while before those numbers start going back down again. Thankfully, with the right systems in place, having clear communication with the public, and having healthcare professionals involved, more and more people will seek out the help that they need to overcome these addictions.


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