Prescription Drug Abuse: Stopping the Epidemic

Drug Abuse in IndianaGovernor Mike Pence and the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency announced their recent partnership with the United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) in an effort to control the increasing rate of prescription drug abuse. Hoosier veterans receiving health care from hospitals in Indiana will be monitored by INSPECT, the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

Recent data from a task force led by Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller reports that prescription drug abuse affects 80% of Hoosier companies. OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, and other synthetic opioids are causing an epidemic due to the prevalence of use in the workplace.

Others who cannot afford prescription drugs resort to cheaper alternatives like heroin. The count of overdosing on opioid painkillers has increased fivefold and is the leading cause of injury and death among adults in Indiana.

Voluntary Reduction

Georgia State University researchers suggest that increasing awareness in the health care sector reduces prescription drug abuse through controlled dispensing. In the January 2016 issue of the Pain Physical Journal, the results of a survey sampling 6,000 physicians, nurses, medical assistants, dentists, and pharmacists in Indiana show the growing concern among health care providers.

Despite affecting providers’ practices, a significant minority of the health care sector, such as dentists, showed barely any concern regarding the epidemic.

This particular lack of concern stems from dental medicine’s alternatives to using opioid painkillers in treatment. Gentle Dentist, for example, practices oral sedation and nitrous oxide in alleviating anxiety in patients.

Drug Screening

Implementing drug screening for job applicants and random testing for current employees regulates substance abuse, but with the variety of prescription drugs along with drugs from the streets, testing should be more specific. Urine, blood, and hair follicle tests detect recent and later frequencies of substance use.

The partnership with the VA requires that veterans upload their health care history, such as their prescriptions, to INSPECT’s online database. Health care providers and prescribers can then access controlled substance information and flag abuses.

Governor Pence says, “This new partnership between INSPECT and the federal department of veterans affairs is a continuance of our promise to ensure quality health care for our Hoosier veterans and a positive step forward in the fight against opioid abuse in Indiana.”