How Law Enforcement is Tackling Prescription Drug Abuse

More Americans are now dying from drug overdoses than motor vehicle accidents, according to a press release from the White Ho

Apr 14

More Americans are now dying from drug overdoses than motor vehicle accidents, according to a press release from the White House last year. The majority of those deaths involved prescription drugs. This complex issue requires participation from numerous government agencies and the medical community. Law enforcement also plays a role in curbing prescription drug abuse, particularly in light of the fact that the abuse often leads to criminal activities of one kind or another. Both state and federal law enforcement agencies are taking the problem of prescription drug abuse very seriously, allocating resources and implementing programs to reduce the abuse and lower the statistics.


Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) are state-run programs designed to curb prescription drug abuse. The programs primarily focus on collecting data from pharmacies about prescriptions of controlled substances, tracking prescriptions received and dispensed. As of the last report by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) at the U.S. Department of Justice, 49 of the 50 states in the country currently have operational PDMPs.

The agencies involved in operating the PDMPs vary by state, but typically include departments of health, state boards of pharmacy, substance abuse agencies, consumer protection agencies and other agencies deemed relevant to the cause by state government officials. Law enforcement agencies also play a key role in most PDMPs. PDMPs were implemented by the federal government in 2010 and six years later, there are still many inconsistencies and communication breakdowns within these programs that keep them from operating as efficiently as they could.


Other Steps by Law Enforcement

Law enforcement agencies in different states have also implemented programs of their own in an effort to curb prescription drug abuse. Prescription drug take-back locations established by many local agencies, have shown effective in reducing prescription drug abuse in those areas. Other efforts include addressing the addiction problem directly by making treatment available and affordable, rather than simple incarcerating drug offenders. Moving offenders back into society after providing proper treatment for their addictions has been shown to be a positive step in the lives of the users and those they touch.

PDMPs can corroborate with local law enforcement by providing them with pertinent reports that make it easier for them to track prescription drug use and abuse in their communities. Some of the reports deemed to be most helpful by the BJA include:

  • Listings of controlled prescriptions issued and dispensed to patients
  • Listings of the prescribers and dispensaries where the drugs are available
  • Compilation of prescribing history for both patients and providers
  • Listings of prescribers, patients and dispensaries involved with “cocktail” prescriptions (combinations of drugs used together to treat a single medical condition)
  • Geographical report of where controlled substances are prescribed and dispensed

When law enforcement works in tandem with the medical community to curb prescription drug abuse, the results tend to be more positive overall. The complexities of the drug abuse problem require it to be addressed from many different angles, using a variety of professionals that may encounter drug abusers every single day. Still, the process is lacking in many ways, often due to insufficient tracking of drug data or lack of real-time access to much-needed information.

While law enforcement continues to work with other agencies to combat drug abuse, treatment facilities are working daily to help individuals overcome their addictions to prescription drugs and other substances. A prescription drug dependency is a serious disorder that usually requires professional treatment to address properly. To learn more about overcoming prescription drug addiction, contact Pasadena Recovery Center today at 866-663-3030.

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