The Massachusetts Senate has been busy passing legislation to fight the ongoing prescription painkiller addiction crisis in the state. The legislation's key focus is on the number of prescription painkillers in circulation and on the prevention of abuse of these opiates. The plan is to work closely with doctors, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and pharmacists to provide a platform of understanding at all levels where these medications are manufactured, prescribed and obtained.
“Too many families in our communities struggle with the heart-breaking consequences of substance abuse and addiction,” said Senator Karen E. Spilka, a Democrat from Ashland said. “This comprehensive bill targets prevention and education, following up on the Senate’s efforts last session to improve access to treatment. These are important initiatives to fight the opioid crisis, focusing on safe prescribing practices, pain management alternatives and student screening to determine those at risk of addiction.”
The bill is bringing in experts into schools to talk about the prescription opiate problem. These highly qualified and properly trained professionals will be talking with middle and high school students about their views and attitudes towards substance abuse, especially prescription painkillers and take at-risk students out to get them the necessary treatment. Young teenagers are getting into trouble with these drugs and are either unaware of how dangerous they really are or are becoming addicted to them and becoming afraid to speak up. Bringing in qualified personnel to the students will give the troubled teens someone to confide in and receive help from immediately.
The bill is also expanding the popular prescription take back program. These programs are set up in specific drop off areas where people can get their unused or expired medications out of the medicine cabinet and disposed of properly. This gets dangerous medications out of the home where most abuse begins. Many teens who start to abuse prescription painkillers often obtain them from their own home or a home of a friend. These prescription take back programs lessen the chances of medications being abused from the home by properly disposing of them.
To further limit the amount of prescription painkillers available for abuse, the bill now allows for the patients to fill their prescription for a lower quantity than prescribed. This will give the patient less pills but will also prevent unused medications from sitting in a medicine cabinet where they can be misused or abused. This option is for patients who know that they will not need the full prescription and know that leaving unused opiates around could lead to trouble.
The Massachusetts State Senate has put forth some great changes in their legislation and many of these programs will have a great and lasting effect on the well-being of its citizens. Hopefully more states will follow suit.