Home > Drug Testing, Prescription Drug Abuse > Prescription Drug Abuse #1 Cause of Accidental Death in the US

Prescription Drug Abuse #1 Cause of Accidental Death in the US

When people think of drug abuse, the so-called “street” drugs like heroin or cocaine usually come to mind rather than over-the-counter medications like Oxycontin, Vicodin, or Percocet. But a look at the facts reveals that prescription drug abuse is the real threat. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription drug abuse is the #1 cause of accidental death in the United States.

A survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse further shows that prescription drug abuse is more prevalent than many people probably imagine — according to their 2010 findings, in 2009 almost 16 million US people above age 12 had taken a prescription drug — whether a sedative, stimulant, or tranquilizer — for nonmedical purposes at least once.

Prescription drug abuse is a national public health issue, and medical professionals are taking note. In fact, the American College of Physicians (ACP) recently recommended clinical and procedural adjustments that should help combat prescription drug abuse by limiting the proliferation of the substances.

ACP Recommendations to Fight Prescription Drug Abuse

Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the ACP’s 10 recommendations should help decrease prescription drug abuse in the United States. They include:

  • Prescription Drug Abuse #1 Cause of Accidental Death in the USIncreased efforts to reduce substance abuse, including prescription drug abuse, through education, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and medical research on addiction.
  • The creation of a comprehensive nationwide policy on prescription drug abuse, including a plan for education, monitoring, prescription drug disposal, and policy enforcement.
  • More consideration for the wide range of effective treatments for pain management so that physicians can avoid prescribing pain medications when not medically necessary
  • The creation of a national Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, or PDMP. Before the PDMP is created, ACP suggests standardizing state PDMPs through the existing National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting (NASPER) program.
  • Further education on the medical uses of prescription drugs and the dangers of medical and nonmedical use, including prescription drug abuse. This education would be geared toward physicians, patients, and the public.
  • Developing a balanced approach to medical treatment that aims to reduce prescription drug abuse without burdening prescribers or dispensers with excessive administrative oversight.
  • The creation of nonbinding data-backed guidelines for recommended maximum dosages and length of therapy for prescription drugs.
  • Having Medicare, Medicaid, private insurers, and law enforcement identify patients at high risk for prescription drug abuse so that they can participate in monitoring programs. In this program, physicians may be required to report suspicions of prescription drug abuse by their patients, but not conduct drug testing without patient consent.
  • The creation of patient-provider treatment agreements to develop pain treatment programs.
  • The creation and passage of legislation permitting electronic prescriptions for controlled substances in all 50 states.

If these policies are enacted, the United States could see prescription drug abuse go down!

Do you suspect that that an employee or loved one is abusing prescription drugs? Get them the help they need today by scheduling a drug test. For more information on prescription drug abuse, contact ARCpoint Labs of Worcester today and learn more about our drug testing services.


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