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National Prescription Drug Addiction Epidemic Out of Control

October 8th, 2014 at 8:21 am

drug laws, opiate addiction, Illinois criminal defense attorney, Some drug cases involve not only legal issues, but deeper issues that some may even argue are more serious than the resulting criminal charges. Many defendants who have been charged with a drug crime are suffering from a prescription drug addiction that is out of control. While they may have their fair share of legal problems to deal with, treating the underlying addiction should also top their priority list. A recent report examined the problem of drug overdoses specifically related to prescription drugs and what obstacles are in the way of trying to stop them.

Doctor Shopping

Abuse of prescription drugs seems to be on the rise, and efforts to stop it are falling short. While many drugs are considered by law to be illegal, prescription drug abuse involves using otherwise legal drugs in an illegal way. Sometimes this may involve taking more than the prescribed dose of a drug, while other times it involves “doctor shopping” to obtain a prescription for a certain type of drug. This practice by drug addicts is known to lead directly to drug overdoses, particularly by those addicted to opioids. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were approximately 17,000 fatal overdoses from pain medications in the year 2011. This was more than the amount of overdoses that resulted from heroin and cocaine combined. This is the latest year for which such numbers are available.

Federal Response

About 12 years ago, there was an effort made to launch a federal program that was aimed at preventing practices of doctor shopping. It involved encouraging states to share information about patient prescription histories. However, there currently is no national database in place to curb this practice. Complicating matters further is the fact that different states follow different rules in their prescription drug monitoring programs. In some states, doctors are not even required to check the program before writing a patient a prescription for opioids.

Obviously, as medical professionals are pointing out, failing to use the systems that are in place will surely cause a failure to detect any misuse. Some are advocating for using prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) across state lines to be truly effective. While most states have PDMPs, each state’s rules regarding them vary and even doctor participation is not always required. Another setback for the programs is human error with inputting a patient’s information, causing inaccessibility to prescription history in certain situations.

The main problem, however, is that PDMPs from different states do not always have access to one another’s databases. At a result, action is being taken at different levels. Some states and other groups are taking steps to form a national database, and some states are enforcing stricter rules about reporting prescriptions. But many agree that the most effective step would be to create a national registry.

Criminal Defense Attorney

The experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have successfully represented clients in drug cases. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your matter.

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