President Obama has explained how he wants to make a dent in the amount of prescription drug abuse in our country recently. In order to lower the amount of people addicted to drugs like Oxycontin, Vicodin, Percocet and heroin, the Administration has three main issues that it wants to address.
One of the areas is to repordedly put a greater focus on prescription monitoring drug tools. He wants to put more money towards improving and adding additional drug treatment programs around the country and he wants to explore making drugs like naloxone more available throughout the country to first responders and families with heroin addicts.
Prescription monitoring tools are essential to thwarting an addict’s attempt at obtaining medications illegally. These programs allow doctors, pharmacists and law enforcement to keep a better eye on painkiller prescriptions. For those with access to the program, they can see who is prescribed what, by whom and where they are filling their prescriptions. They also allow doctors to see if their patient has recently been to another doctor and obtained a prescription for opiates. Oftentimes, in order to evade suspicion, addicts will fill their prescriptions at different pharmacies. This tool would allow pharmacists to see if the person had recently filled the same prescription somewhere else. Many states have invested money in instituting a prescription monitoring program, however not everyone uses the tool, which essentially renders it ineffective. Obama wants to put more of a focus on getting these programs running and actually used everywhere.
More than $100 million in additional funding is being requested to fighting the drug abuse problem. Part of that money would be given to rehabilitation centers and states that need to establish more treatment beds. Many addicts have a difficult time enrolling in treatment because of the long wait lists at publicly-supported rehabilitation facilities. Creating more beds would allow greater access to treatment for people in need of help.
Naloxone is a drug that, when administered, reverses the effects of an opiate overdose. Currently some states have allowed their law enforcement officers and emergency medical personnel to carry around prescriptions of the drug to administer if they are first on the scene of an overdose. Obama wants to explore this further and potentially make carrying naloxone a national thing, rather than just a few states.
In the beginning of July, President Obama released the 2014 National Drug Control Strategy. It outlined what needed to happen to improve the drug problem in the United States. Included in the report was the emphasis that more attention to addiction treatment and prevention needed to be made.
While the White House maintained a firm stance that they will not legalize drugs, they did point out that there was no way to win the war on drugs by strictly relying on the judicial system. The report listed a few startling statistics that indicate the magnitude of the drug problem in the United States and why criminal justice reform was also a necessary component.
Michael Botticelli, acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) gave a speech where he listed out statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He stated that the amount of drug overdose deaths have now exceeded homicides and car accidents. Botticelli indicates that this is mostly caused by the increase in opiates such as heroin and narcotic painkillers. The drug czar went on to say that every day an average of 110 people in the United States die from a drug overdose. Of those people, half of them are related to prescription drugs.
These startling statistics paint a gloomy picture. Botticelli and President Obama made it clear that there are ways to prevent drug abuse. They stated that best way to handle a drug problem is to stop it before it even starts. This seems logical to most people, but insufficient efforts have been made thus far. Therefore, increased efforts to maximize prevention programs across the country are part of the new drug strategy. Not only is prevention the easiest way to lessen the drug problem in the United States, it is also the most cost effective on a long-term basis.
There are several indications that a person is abusing alcohol or other drugs. The ONDCP director listed several characteristics of drug abuse for the audience, but specifically he spoke to healthcare providers, saying that they need to be vigilant in recognizing substance abuse addiction. He spoke about a nurse who noticed that her patient was wearing long sleeves in the summer. Upon examination the nurse was able to identify needle marks and referred the patient to treatment.
Paying more attention to the behaviors of people around us all can help spot trouble before it gets worse and help get more people into treatment before something more tragic happens. If you have a loved one in need of a long-term rehabilitation program for a drug or alcohol problem, contact Desert Cove Recovery today.