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Doctors Propose Stronger Prescription Monitoring to Combat Drug Abuse

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Drug abuse, Cook County Criminal Defense Attorney, Substance Abuse, CDCAccording to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, “prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the Nation.” On the state level, Illinois recognizes the seriousness of the situation as well, having already implemented a statewide Prescription Monitoring Program to help doctors and pharmacies identify potential issues quickly. In addition to the obvious dangers of abusing prescription drugs, doctors are also acutely concerned that many who abuse prescription medication will eventually turn to heroin, cocaine, or other illegal substances.

The Illinois State Medical Society addressed this concern recently to the Illinois House Task Force on the Heroin Crisis, a bipartisan group formed to look for solutions to a growing problem. Recognizing the usefulness of the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), the doctors’ group presented a 30 page proposal to the task force that, in essence, would strengthen the program and more easily identify “doctor shopping” and other drug-seeking behavior.

Authorized by Illinois state law, the PMP tracks and monitors prescription drugs on the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Schedules II, III, IV, and V. The most commonly abused medications include morphine, oxycodone, codeine, and other painkillers, but the program’s scope includes all substances classified to those lists by the DEA. In the PMP’s current form, a patient is flagged by the system if he or she visits six or more prescribers or six or more pharmacies in a 30 day period. The proposed change would cause a patient to be flagged if he or she were to visit three or more prescribers or four or more pharmacies within 30 days.

Once a patient is flagged, a participating doctor or pharmacy, ideally, will be able to attend to the situation with the patient. Armed with the pertinent information, the doctor and patient can work out alternative treatment options, and if necessary, address or actively treat the patient’s possible substance abuse. Without the appropriate professional intervention, many doctors fear that individuals who are simply turned away at the pharmacy may resort to more dangerous street drugs such as heroin or cocaine.

Substance abuse in the United States is clearly a multi-faceted problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has called prescription drug overdose a “U.S. epidemic,” while heroin-related deaths are on the rise in much of the country. Additionally, a CDC report found that increases in state heroin death rates were related to prescription opioid death rates, which seems to justify the Medical Society’s proposal to strengthen the monitoring program in Illinois.

When you or someone you love is dealing with drug-related issues, it can have a tremendous impact on all aspects of life. Employment, family, and personal relationships can all be greatly affected. It is important to get the reliable help you need quickly. If you have been charged with a drug-related offense, the right lawyer can make all the difference. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Cook County for a free consultation today.

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