Earlier this week, New York took a huge step forward in helping to curb prescription painkiller abuse. The state launched a new prescription drug monitoring program, called the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing (I-STOP), which requires physicians to review the medical histories of patients before writing prescriptions for opiate painkillers, like OxyContin®, Vicodin®, and Lortab®.
It’s incredibly encouraging to see a leading state like New York taking a serious stand to track prescription medications as it’s a simple and easy way to help avoid abuse through doctor shopping, forged prescriptions, and other behaviors that may indicate abuse. The law will also require pharmacists to report when they are filling controlled substances. The ability to monitor prescriptions has existed for quite some time, and legislation like I-STOP is a positive sign that the rest of the country will hopefully follow suit.
Deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses are continually rising, with more than four times as many people dying in 2010 as in 1999 – that’s more than 125,000 American lives lost in the last 10 years from prescription painkiller overdoses. We’ve seen first-hand that the problem of prescription drug abuse also stems largely from the recreational use of painkillers, where people get the narcotics from friends or family who were originally prescribed the medications by doctors. This is another reason why prescription monitoring is so crucial.
Although I-STOP is a big step in the right direction, we hope lawmakers will also make treatment more widely available and do their part to help remove the stigma and fear for people who are apprehensive about seeking help. The first step is to limit overprescribing these drugs, but we also need to help sufferers regain control over their lives, so it’s critical that laws like these have a strategy for safe medical detox treatments and rehabilitation.
At the Waismann Method, we’ve always been advocates for offering a medically safe and humane treatment for opiate dependency. Compared to other programs, our patients achieve an extraordinarily high success rate because our team of doctors, therapists and staff assess and performs treatments that are unique to each patient rather than administering the same treatment to everyone.
Prescribing Opiates and Monitoring
Prescription monitoring programs are a wonderful example of how we all have the opportunity to help support, advance, and even demand more responsible practices in medicine. From doctors who over-prescribe prescription medications to opiate treatment programs that cut corners and release patients before they are physically stable – it’s time to put an end to these careless techniques and start placing more value on human life over greed and profit. People in the medical community have a responsibility to the long-term well being of their patients, and with widespread support for more responsible methods, we’ll hopefully see more steps in the right direction.