Delivering his first prime-time address of the year from the Oval Office, President Trump expressed concern about the soaring security and humanitarian crisis along the southern borders with Mexico. He also highlighted how uncontrolled illegal migration is adding to America’s drug woes as enormous quantities of heroin, fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine are being pushed into the country through the innumerable drug trafficking rings that operate in these regions. Describing the gravity of the current situation, President Trump said, “More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.”
However, despite the seriousness in his address to deal with the ongoing opioid epidemic, the President did not actually speak about legal medications that were largely fueling the addiction epidemic nationwide, complicating the regulatory process. Past studies have shown that prescription painkillers, such as Vicodin, morphine, and OxyContin, which can be procured by producing a doctor’s prescription, may leave patients vulnerable to abuse and addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), among those engaged in chronic nonmedical use of opioids during the 2000s, 75 percent stated that their first opioid was a prescription medication.
Moreover, in a December 2018 report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mentioned that in 2016, diphenhydramine, oxycodone, alprazolam, and hydrocodone topped the list of prescription drugs responsible for frequent fatal overdoses throughout the year. Such widespread abuse devastated not only individual drug users, but also affected their families. Though, the CDC maintained that in 2017, the overall national opioid prescribing rate dropped sharply to 58.7 prescriptions from 81.3 prescriptions per 100 persons in 2012, it still continues to remain quite high in specific regions across the U.S.
Given the circumstances, experts believe that the federal government requires to regulate the doctors’ capacity to prescribe opioids to their patients. They believe there has to be a clear line of demarcation between overprescribing and people struggling with painful conditions. On the contrary, federal authorities are finding it tough to regulate prescription opioids, and the matter continues to remain unresolved.
Why is it so tough to regulate legal drugs?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that life-threatening drugs do not make their way to the market. Once the drugs are approved, the organization wields relatively less influence over them and can only change their labeling and marketing. In case, the FDA does identify possible dangers in a particular drug, it must compile sizeable data to substantiate its claims.
However, the non-availability of data and reluctance of the pharmaceutical companies to cooperate with the FDA creates multiple procedural hurdles. This in turn makes it tough to regulate legal drugs that have the potential to cause addiction. Additionally, lawmakers are also wary of interfering in the personal medical habits of Americans that is likely to attract backlash. On the other hand, federal agencies do not hesitate in attacking illegal drugs because majority of the Americans view them as illicit, harmful substances, making illegal drugs a politically advantageous target compared to legal prescription drugs.
Seeking help for prescription drug addiction
Physicians and pharmacists play a major role in recognizing and thwarting any attempts to misuse prescription drugs. They must include effective evidence-based screening mechanisms as a part of any consultation process. Besides, efforts should be made to identify and use alternative, non-opioid treatments, as the first line of treatment. It is also important to make patients aware of the risks of overdose, and the outcomes of polysubstance use. Moreover, pharmacy staff must remain alert at all times to identify counterfeit or altered prescriptions that may pave the way for abuse.
If you or your loved one is addicted to opioids or any other prescription drugs and is looking for prescription drug rehab centers in California, then get in touch with the Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline of California. Call our 24/7 prescription abuse hotline 855-738-2770 or chat online with our trained representative to get reliable information on various prescription drug treatment options. A member from our team would guide you through the best possible options based on your needs.