When most people speak of drug addiction they think in terms of street drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy or heroin. While these substances are certainly dangerous, prescription drugs can be equally so. The abuse of prescription drugs has become a growing problem in the U.S., and it could be argued that these drugs are more dangerous than their street level counterparts precisely because they are legally available from doctors. However, a growing number of regulators and healthcare providers are promoting the idea of prescription drug monitoring to prevent addiction and overdose.
How Do PDMPs Work?
PDMPs, which stands for prescription drug monitoring programs, are state implemented procedures and policies which monitor the usage and administration of prescription drugs. Research conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse has shown that these programs have reduced the occurrence of overdose related deaths. PDMPs monitor a large number of substances with potential for abuse, and frequently update their information. This has led to greater awareness and overdose prevention, particularly for opioids.
PDMPs function in the form of digital databases which are statewide. They are responsible for tracking the dispensing and prescription of numerous medications, as well as patients who may be seeking them. A common technique that is used by prescription drug addicts is “doctor shopping” where they visit numerous doctors seeking medications. PDMPs are structured in such a way where it is easier for authorities to assess and detect potential cases for abuse, and respond appropriately. PDMPs also allow healthcare professional to better identify patients who are at risk for addiction.
Effectiveness of PDMPs
The implementation of PDMPs across the United States has had noted success. Deaths related to opioid overdose in places where PDMPs are utilized have fallen to 1.12 per 100,000 people. States which have implemented these programs have also had greater success than many of the states which don’t use them.
Studies conducted on the effectiveness of prescription drug monitoring programs have come to the conclusion that additional steps should be taken to adopt these programs nationwide. This can help to stem the large number of deaths which are resulting from opioid addiction and overdose. Such programs can also better equip rehab facilities to assist and monitor patients who are addicted to prescription drugs.
In some cities within the U.S. prescription drug abuse has become a problem which rivals that of traditional street level drugs. Prescription drugs are promoted heavily by pharmaceutical companies and have become a multibillion dollar industry. While these drugs are legal, many patients are abusing them, which leads to addiction and can be just as debilitating and dangerous as addiction to alcohol or cocaine. However, because prescription drugs are approved by the FDA and administered by doctors this gives authorities and physicians the ability to better monitor these substances in order to determine who is selling them, which patients are receiving prescriptions and who is most likely to be abusing them. PDMPs serve as an important tool that will allow addicts to receive the treatment they need.