The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—CDC—produces a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The July 4, 2014 report detailed the plunge in Florida’s prescription drug overdose rate between 2010 and 2012. According to the report, prescription drug deaths decreased about 23 percent. Overdose deaths from oxycodone decreased more than 50 percent.
The CDC attributes the decrease in Florida’s overdose deaths to the state’s revised strategy on dealing with prescription drugs. In April 2012, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi issued a state report titled, “Florida’s Prescription Drug Diversion and Abuse Roadmap 2012-2015.” Building on the overdose prevention successes of 2010 and 2011, Bondi and her staff created a multi-faceted plan to reduce illicit and prescription drug overdose deaths. The plan includes six key prevention framework strategies.
Strengthen individuals’ knowledge and skills
Education is the most effective method for preventing prescription drug abuse. According to the Bondi report, children who learn about the dangers of drug use, either from a parent, teacher or other authority figure, are 50 percent less likely to use drugs. The report stresses the need for physicians to stop prescribing opioids unless absolutely necessary.
Promote community education
The report highlights the grassroots efforts of communities to educate and eradicate. With respect to education, the use of social media can reach a vast and diverse number of individuals. Community education not only promotes awareness but also fosters a sense of cohesion. Civic leaders working with statewide Drug Enforcement Strike Forces increase the visibility of enforcement and brings home the message that diverting prescription drugs will result in swift punishment.
Train medical and healthcare industry professionals
Medical and healthcare professionals will benefit from the Food and Drug Administration’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy—REMS. The REMS focuses on the risks of addiction peculiar to extended-release opioid analgesics. The Bondi report identifies physicians and pharmacists as the mouthpieces for promoting the Use Only as Directed campaign — which seeks to educate the public on the risks of not following prescription drug labels.
Foster local coalitions and networks
Local communities experience the effects of prescription drug abuse firsthand. Communities must create coalitions comprised of medical professionals, law enforcement, civic leaders and school administrators to promote prescription drug awareness. According to the report, “holding town hall meetings, prescription drug take back programs, supporting pill mill moratoriums, lobbying elected officials, and other forms of advocacy can all work together to provide a sustainable platform for the sharing of best practices that will guide local communities in developing their own comprehensive prevention initiatives.”
Change organizational policies and practices
Florida’s prescription drug monitoring program—PDMP—is a carefully-planned tool in preventing doctor shopping and drying up the supply of drugs for pill mills. But in order to be effective, doctors and pharmacists must consult the PDMP each time they suspect potential abuse. The other major policy change concerns drug disposal methodology. While drug take back programs are effective, more methods for disposing of unused prescription drugs must be implemented. These can include drop-off locations at police and fire stations. Securely locked storage containers can be set up in prescribing locations such as pharmacies and grocery stores.
Influence policy and legislation
The Bondi report encourages parents to let their elected officials know that they are concerned about the proliferation of prescription drugs in their children’s schools and communities. The public must make elected officials aware of the detrimental impact prescription drug abuse has on communities, the report emphasizes.
Please contact us if you are battling prescription drug abuse. Our helpline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We can help.