According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prescription drug abuse is the number one cause of accidental death in the United States. In response to this startling fact, the American College of Physicians (ACP) announced its support of programs and prescription drug guidelines charged with reducing the extent of this epidemic.
In a policy statement published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the ACP offered 10 recommendations including the formation of a national prescription drug database, increased educational opportunities for doctors and patients and the consideration of drafting written agreements between physicians and patients being treated for pain. The organization also called for all individuals with prescribing privileges to submit narcotic prescriptions electronically to ensure safety and reduce fraud.
"The goal of this paper is to provide physicians and policymakers with a set of recommendations to address the significant human and financial costs related to prescription drug abuse," the ACP said in its statement.
One of the the most notable ACP recommendations is for doctors to first attempt to find a non-opioid alternative to alleviate a patient's pain. Individuals often become addicted to prescription narcotics while they are being treated for an actual ailment. Finding different pain medications to use can prevent this from happening. The organization did not, however, call for maximum doses to be set or treatment time limits to be imposed since cases can vary.
The ACP paper comes on the heels of the Food and Drug Administration's announcement that it would reclassify Vicodin as a Schedule II drug, meaning that prescriptions would be limited to a 90-day supply.
Prescription drug abuse can affect anyone. If someone in your life needs help, contact Intervention Services to learn how a professional interventionist can help your loved one enter an effective treatment program.