Prescription drug abuse is a crisis in this country, federal government officials said Tuesday, and it’s time to do something about it. Specifically, they want to cut opioid abuse by targeting the people who prescribe the drugs and the users who obtain them.
The report “Epidemic: Responding to America’s Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis,” recommends a four-part strategy to reduce painkiller overdoses. Essentially:
-- Increase education, particularly among parents and children, about prescription drug abuse.
-- Monitor what the report calls “doctor-shoppers”—abusers who get multiple prescriptions for drugs.
-- Encourage safe disposal programs of unneeded or expired medications.
-- Regulate or shut down “pill mills”—pain clinics known for dispensing upwards of hundreds of pills per patient.
Nearly 12,000 people died from an opioid overdose in 2007, up from about 3,000 people in 1999, according to the latest statistics available from the CDC.
Overdoses aren’t slowing down, officials said in the news release announcing the plan:
"Unintentional drug overdose is a growing epidemic in the U.S. and is now the leading cause of injury death in 17 states," CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said in the release. "There are effective and emerging strategies out there to address this problem."