Kicking off the news this week what’s take a look at prescription painkiller abuse. The CDC says that nearly 16,000 people die each year in the US from prescription painkiller overdoses with thousands more being injured or admitted to hospitals for the problem. The rates of overdoses are increasing at a higher rate for women, who are nearly 2 times as likely to have a painkiller overdose when compared to men.

State Laws Fail To Keep Up With Abuse

teen-pills.jpgWhat is being done about this? A recent article I picked up over at the WashingtonPost.com notes that 50 Americans die each day from prescription drug overdoses. A recent report from the Trust for America’s Health says that the rates of overdose and addiction to prescription drugs has doubled since 1999 in most places. While increased access to medications like oxycodone is helpful in managing pain for patients better now that they end up recuperating at home, it also provides increased risk for abuse and addiction.

The report looks at all 50 states and the District of Columbia in 10 specific indicators that are known to have a positive impact on prescription medication abuse. These indicators include laws on prescribing these medications, education for healthcare professionals, medication disposal initiatives and other educational programs. Only two states, New Mexico and Vermont, implemented all 10 of the noted strategies. South Dakota failed miserably by having only two of the initiatives in place.

Balancing Pain Management and Abuse

Managing a patient’s pain is an important part of what we do but we have to do so with an eye towards making sure that we are not providing them a resource that could cause them to become addicted or abuse their pain medications. I hope you will take the initiative to seek out some education on prescription pain medication of use in your communities and your patients.

Become involved in outreach efforts that help people understand safe ways to protect and dispose of their medications when they are no longer using them so that they don’t fall into others hands. I included several links to articles at the CDC website where you can find out more about prescription pain medication abuse and overdose.

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Follow-up on the link for this and other news items as well as all of the additional resource links in the show notes for this episode – Paramedico Author and Filmmaker Benjamin Gilmour and Episode 359.

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