Rhode Island Drug Overdose Deaths Have Tripled in Past Ten Years
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Moreover, the number of deaths, "a majority of which are from prescription drugs," in Rhode Island nearly tripled since 1999 when the rate was 5.5 per 100,000.
The report, entitled Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic, was conducted by TFAH, a "non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority."
Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH) spokesperson Deb Varga told GoLocal that state agencies will be addressing the issue this week. "On Wednesday morning, our department and HEALTH will be holding a joint press conference on drug overdoses at the Department of Health."
See How the New England States Ranked BELOW
Upon unveiling the findings yesterday, the TFAH said, "Prescription drug abuse has quickly become a top public health concern, as prescription drug related deaths now outnumber those from heroin and cocaine combined, and drug overdose deaths exceed motor vehicle-related deaths in 29 states and Washington, D.C."
"Misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers alone costs the country an estimated $53.4 billion a year in lost productivity, medical costs and criminal justice costs," it continued. "The report also notes that, currently, only one in 10 Americans with a substance abuse disorder receives treatment."
Strategies to Curb Abuse
These measures that Rhode Island currently has in place, according to the TFAH, include :
* Having a "Prescription Drug Monitoring Program"
* "Doctor Shopping Laws," which specifiy that patients are prohibited from withholding information about prior prescriptions from their healthcare provider
* Support for substance abuse treatment services, which means participating in expanded Medicaid coverage of substance services and treatment
* Good Samaritan Laws, which provide a degree of immunity or mitigation of sentencing for individuals seeking to help themselves or others experiencing an overdose
* Rescue Drug Laws, which allow expanded access to, and use of naxolone, a prescription drug that can help counteract an overdose, by laypeople
* Physical Exam Requirement, which requires healthcare providers to physically examine patients, or have a bone-fide patient-physician relationship, before prescribing a controlled substance
* Lock-In Programs: Under the state's Medicaid plan, has a pharmacy lock-in program where individuals suspected of using controlled substances must use a single prescriber or pharmacy
According to the report. the two criteria that Rhode Island currently lacks includes the stipulation that provider education is required or recommended, as well as an ID requirement, which requires or permits a pharmacist to require an ID prior to dispensing a controlled substance.
GoLocal Mindsetter and political consultant Rob Horowitz, who recently wrote a piece on the issue entitled, "Let's Get Serious about Prescription Drug Abuse," said that so far, "national and state efforts in this area amount to not much more than baby steps" -- and calls for even bolder action.
"This includes stepped-up education for parents and kids and expanding on the Attorney General’s efforts with a saturation level advertising campaign aimed at getting more Rhode Islanders to regularly empty their medicine chests of unused prescription drugs. In addition, requiring training of doctors and other health professionals--both in their initial medical education and as a component of ongoing professional education--on how to appropriately prescribe this medicine to minimize the risk of addiction is a must. Despite the precipitous rise of prescription drug abuse, most doctors and other health professionals currently receive little or no training in this area. Lastly, stepped-up criminal penalties for ‘online pharmacies” that provide these kind of drugs illegally should be explored."
Addressing Drug Issues at the Youth Level
Workshops include "Dying to Try It & Don't Have Time for the Pain," "Crossing the Cultural Divide: Working with Latino Youth and their Families," "Youth in Recovery: Youth Panel," "Treatment of Adolescent Marijuana Users - What is Working," and "Adolescent Substance Abuse - Different Than Adults," among others.
For more information, go to www.risas.org.
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