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Oct 22, 2013

Additional Policies Suggested to Decrease Maine Prescription Drug Abuse

On October 7th, The Trust for America’s House released a report that outlines 10 steps that states can take to limit prescription drug abuse. Prescription drug abuse is a big problem in the State of Maine. Between 1990 and 2010, the number of prescription drug related overdose deaths increased from 2.2 deaths per 100,000 people to 10.4 deaths per 100,000 people.

Currently Maine has only enacted 5 of the 10 principles. They include the following:

  1. Prescription drug monitoring to prevent people from visiting multiple doctors in order to obtain many prescriptions for the same drug.
  2. Requiring doctors to perform a physical examination in order to look for signs of substance abuse before writing prescriptions.
  3. Doctor shopping laws that make it illegal to get prescription drugs from multiple doctors or pharmacies.
  4. Requiring pharmacists to ask for photo ID before dispensing painkillers.
  5. Requiring Medicaid patients who are suspected of prescription drug abuse to use a single doctor and pharmacist to obtain their medications.

The five suggested policies that Maine is being encouraged to adapt include:

  1. Mandating that all doctors participate in the drug monitoring program.
  2. Expanding substance abuse treatment for Medicaid and other underprivileged people.
  3. Requiring more in-depth training for doctors on pain and pain management in hopes that they will find alternatives to prescribing pain killers.
  4. Enacting Good Samaritan laws that encourage other drug users to report witnessing an overdose without fear of consequences for their own drug abuse.
  5. Support for drugs that can help a person who is experiencing a drug overdose.

By making these drugs available to third parties, they may be able to save the life of a drug abuse patient Prescription drug abuse is a problem all over the country and these laws seem to be a good way to limit drug abuse without making it harder for people who really need these drugs to get access to them. Organizations like the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation fully support all states adapting all ten of these policies. Maine lawmakers may want to begin adopting these suggestions one at a time to see how they affect the abuse rates as well as what issues they cause.

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