According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a serious over-prescription problem in the US. It is estimated that a big percentage of Americans use some form of prescription pain medication at some point in their lives. Some of these users continue using or rather abusing the drug even after their medical condition improves. The CDC reports that about forty-six people die in the US on a daily basis from overdose from prescription medication.
Legislators in the State of New York have moved to pass legislative measures aimed at curbing the runaway over-prescription problem that has been seen by experts to be connected to heroin addiction. The US Attorney for Western New York, William Hochul, observed that most of the heroin cases in New York can be tied to some opiate abuse that occurred in the past. He argues that initially doctors prescribed the prescription pills for legitimate medical cases. However, with time, some doctors deviated from their moral obligations and started prescribing these addictive pills to individuals as long as the individuals could pay for the drugs. In effect, the doctors became drug dealers in lab coats and the number of opiate and heroin addicts surged.
A study by the University of Buffalo found that at least three out of every four people hooked on heroin abused prescription opioids before shifting to heroin abuse. One of such people is Shannon, a 31-year old who confessed of having started abusing Oxycontin at age 14 and turned to heroin by age 17.
Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing (I-STOP) is one of the measures erected by the lawmakers to curb the high rate of over-prescription in the State of New York. This law that went into effect in 2013 requires all doctors in the state to register all the patients receiving prescription opiates. Prior to filling any new prescription, the doctor must track the patient’s medical history and see if he or she has been using the drugs in the past. According to the State Department of Health, the implementation of this law has reduced the number of state-wide prescriptions by close to ten percent.
Dr. Richard Blondell, the overseer of the Addiction Medicine Program at the University of Buffalo, asserts that the best approach to deal with the over-prescription problem is by preventing people from getting addicted to opioids in the first place. He advocates for the education of communities and physicians on the dangers of opiate addiction. He further asserts that if the healthcare field continues to create addicts through the over-prescription of opioids, drug peddlers in the black market will have clients to whom they will sell illegal opiates or heroin.
Though I-STOP has been viewed by many as a significant initiative in the fight against over-prescription of opiates, more still needs to be done. The New York Attorney General is urging the federal government to institute measures that will actually curtail the proliferation of opiates in the state. Parents are also advised to supervise their kids, keep all medication in locked cabinets and dispose of any prescription medication that remains after the completion of medication. The war against over-prescription will only be won when all the stakeholders work together by conquering addiction from all angles.