The Ultimate Guide to Prescription Drug Abuse

The Ultimate Guide to Prescription Drug Abuse: The Problems and Solutions

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  • LEARN MORE  about how every 4 minutes someone is sent to treatment
  • HELP STOP  doctor shopping and diversion
  • DISCOVER  how the current administration says it will reduce drug use by 15%

Why We Should Be On Alert for Rx Drug Abuse

The risks for addiction increases when prescription drugs are used in ways other than as prescribed.

Teenagers are especially at risk for abusing prescription drugs.

They are more likely to obtain drugs in illegal ways.  In 2012, 24% of teens surveyed said they have taken a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription.

Teenagers like to experiment with prescription drugs because they are usually easier to obtain than street drugs like marijuana or cocaine.  Teens may experiment with medications to fit in, to be cool, they think they will be fun, they want to lose weight, or perhaps because they will help to study better. 

Did you know that every day, 2,500 kids ages 12 to 17 abuse a pain reliever for the first time?

In 2008, more than 2.1 million teens ages 12 to 17 report abusing prescription drugs. Among 12 and 13 year olds, prescription drugs are the drug of choice.

That is why it is more important than ever to be on the lookout for prescription drug abuse, especially amongst teenagers. Preventing or stopping prescription drug abuse is an important part of patient care.

Physicians, their patients, and pharmacists all can play a role in identifying and preventing prescription drug abuse.

Physicians are in a unique position since they are the ones responsible for prescribing medications. They are the front lines to identify abuse of prescription drugs and prevent the escalation to addiction.

Physicians can help their patients recognize that a problem exists, set recovery goals, and seek appropriate treatment. Screening for prescription drug abuse can be incorporated into routine medical visits.

Doctors should be alert to the fact that many young patients may engage in doctor shopping — moving from doctor to doctor in an effort to obtain multiple prescriptions for the drugs they abuse.

Doctors should also take note of unscheduled refill requests, increases in the amount of medication needed, or otherwise frantic or inconsistent behavior.

Physicians are always in a tricky situation, because they cannot deny a patient of  pain relievers if they are in real patient. The only thing a physician can do is recognize the warning signs, and try to make the most informed decision as possible.

The Importance of Prescription Records

Anybody who has ever visited a hospital before has a medical record of some sort.  Which accounts for pretty much all of us who were born in a hospital.

A medical record is simply a record of a patient’s health and medical history. Depending on the level or need of care a patient has, records may vary, but all medical records will contain some common information.

For example, each patient record must have specific personal identification information, like a drivers license, social security number, or other official ID in order to ensure the accuracy of the record to the correct patient.  Everyone has a medical history, a treatment history, a transaction history,

And everyone has a medication history.

The drugs that we take are an important piece to our medical puzzle. A medical professional needs to know about the over the counter or prescription medications that we are taking. Even illegal drug information is important because of the way these drugs can interact wit prescribed ones.

Recent studies indicate that a whopping 70% of the country takes at least one prescription drug. In 2012 alone, the USA alone spent over $500 billion on them. 

Complete medication information is of the utmost importance.

The problem is that it can be very difficult to maintain complete and accurate medical history information.  Many times patients are trying to receive medications illegally.  They will  visit different physicians to obtain their narcotics. They won’t be truthful about their medical histories.  They pay cash for their prescriptions to keep it free of electronic transactions.  This is known as doctor shopping.

In the United States, there are an estimated 50,000 doctor shoppers, although that figure is a low estimate.  There could be as many as 100,000 who try to game the hospitals and pharmacies to obtain as many opioids as possible.

Other times, a patient isn’t trying to be manipulative or nefarious at all. They are simply taking their medications as their doctor recommends them.

Sometimes, especially in the case of senior citizens, they tend to forget all of the prescriptions that they are taking. It is estimated that over 90% of all Americans over the age of 70 are currently taking at least one medication, while the average senior citizen takes 5-6 medications at one time.

Sometimes, a patient may have to visit a different hospital than they usually attend, perhaps in another city or another state.  This can be a problem, if their physicians are on different electronic medical record platforms, than that medication history is not going to follow the patient. Thus, the prescriber is not getting accurate prescription information, and will not be able to make the most informed decision.

This can be very dangerous for both parties.  It is dangerous for the patient, who could be mixing medications and suffer serious consequences.  If that does in fact happen, the prescriber as well as the insurer are liable for damages that may be suffered.  Physicians are always at the risk of losing their medical licenses if something goes wrong.

There is a major problem in the healthcare system right now, and it is a lack of accurate, complete, real-time prescription medication records.  This is something that must be addressed immediately.

We cannot sit back and wait for the government to come up with more public solutions that are bureaucratic and inefficient.  We must look to the private sector for better solutions.

The time is now.




Top 10 Prescription Guidelines

  A list of guidelines has been developed for health agencies in dealing with prescription drug abuse. They include the following 10 items: Look for and treat emergencies. Use best judgment when treating pain. These recommendations follow legal and ethical advice. Have only one provider and one pharmacy for helping you with pain. Do not prescribe pain […]

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The case of West Virginia and too many doctor shoppers

A state panel sent more than 2,500 letters to medical professionals across West Virginia, warning that their patients could be “doctor shopping” for prescription drugs. West Virginia continues to be Ground Zero for the prescription drug abuse epidemic. The state’s Board of Pharmacy committee discovered hundreds of patients who were receiving pain-pill prescriptions from as many as 13 […]

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What happens to physicians who overprescribe opioids?

Just last week a NJ-based physician had his license revoked for prescribing “opioids in large quantities and strengths.” (article) The doctor was accused of providing a steady supply of painkillers and anti-depressants to patients with little or no medical justification. The complaint alleges “patients were able to secure pills even when their urine samples showed they […]

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Do Prescription Monitoring Programs actually aid drug abusers?


Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, or PDMPs, are currently up and running in 42 states, with six other states having passed laws to enact them soon. It is generally considered that PDMPs are the most effective solution for tracking the flow of opioid prescription medications. Among several states that have reported success after implementation of the […]

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Amazing Fact About Every Mass Shooting Incident in the USA

Has anybody else read the recent article on The Liberty Crier? It is titled Nearly Every Mass Shooting in the Last 20 Years Has One Thing in Common. You can probably already guess one that one thing is that they all have in common. In nearly every single mass shooting incident that has taken place […]

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Causes and Contributing Factors of Drug Use

Multiple factors are believed to account for the rise in prescription drug abuse in the United States. Motivations to purposely abuse drugs include the desire to become intoxicated; to counter anxiety, pain, or sleep problems; and to enhance cognition. Unintended misuse can be due to misperceptions about drug safety, use of medications other than as […]

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Stories like this just scream for tighter controls when filling prescriptions

 In the LA Times on January 27th, there was an article about a pharmacy in Burbank that dispensed painkillers and other narcotics to five young patients who later died of overdoses. The pharmacy catered to the patients of two physicians whom were later convicted of crimes in connection with their prescribing. The pharmacy also had its license […]

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20 Risk Conditions for Controlled Substance Prescriptions

Attached is a brief list of 20 potential risk conditions that should generate a risk warning at the physician or pharmacy level when prescribing controlled medications: Controlled prescriptions from more than 1 provider within the last 30 days. More than two controlled medications filled at more than two separate pharmacies in the past 30 days. Pill […]

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