Prescription drug abuse is now recognized as the nation’s fastest growing drug problem. While there has been a marked decrease in the use of illegal drugs like cocaine, data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows:
- Nearly one-third of people age 12 and over who used drugs for the first time in 2009 began
by using a prescription drug non-medically (not by prescription)
- The number of prescriptions for opioid pain relievers has increased dramatically in
- From 1997 to 2007, the number of milligrams per person used increased from 74mg to
369mg -- a 402 percent increase!
- Retail pharmacies dispensed 174 million opiate prescriptions in the year 2000 but in
2009 they dispensed 257 million prescriptions, a 48 percent increase
- Further opiate overdose deaths most always due to heroin are now increasingly due
to abuse of prescription pain medications.
- Finally, almost 5,500 people every day start to use prescription pain killers!
I am on the front line of this battle against prescription abuse/addiction and I can tell you that, for the past four years, 75 percent of the patients I see admitted on our Addiction Treatment Unit are prescription opiate addicts, with the overwhelming majority being below the age of 18 to 29.
We are losing the battle! We must face the problem and try to handle it in a different manner. I am not saying I have the answer, but obviously we must change our approach.
I would propose the following:
1. Shorten the expensive detox stay to 72 hours only for state Medicaid patient.
2. Put into effect a longer outpatient follow up care sponsored by the treating hospital of 14 days.
3. Monitor each patient that is attending daily 12-step meetings by bringing signed notices of attendance.
And this is the biggie.
Change the policy of the Sooner Care Pharmaceutical guidelines which:
a) Allow only one month of Suboxone medication therapy
b) No. prescriptions for Subutex (the opiate in Suboxone) therapy “unless client is
Try to hold every opiate addict accountable to the doctor writing prescriptions for Suboxone or Subutex by a very
simple drug screen costing $6 which not only checks for Suboxone/Subutex but other opiates.
Don't extend Suboxone (or Subutex) therapy past 6 months when 12-step meetings should take over.
I am not saying this is the best way or only way to treat opiate addiction in our state, but I believe it would be a start in the right direction. The present way of treatment is next to worthless (lot of money down the drain).
Again, I did not say there was an easy solution to the dilemma but we the people of Oklahoma deserve better than what our young people are getting. By the way, we are No. 1 for 2012 in opiate use again according to according to a local TV report the other night.