Arkansas Drug Monitoring Applauded

Prescription drug abuse is an ongoing problem requiring an approach which recruits both law enforcement and the medical community to seek solutions. Arkansas has one of the better efforts to combat the nationwide issue, at least in part because of efforts from our Attorney General, Dustin McDaniel.

According to the Northwest Arkansas Times, we ranked ninth among all 50 states for the abuse of prescription pain relievers, with about one in 20 of our citizens having misused drugs in 2011. However, by combining efforts from pharmacies, law enforcement, the drug addiction treatment community and through education, the problem is being hit from all sides. This is exactly the approach recommended by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

At the root of the Arkansas solution is getting different stakeholders to communicate with each other. Doctors can learn how criminals operate by talking to police. In turn, police can learn how substance-abuse treatment functions to cut through the cycle of addiction and despair. All parties involved share a common goal – making a better, healthier community.

In particular, the recommendation is to include instruction in prescription drug abuse in medical schools and through continuing education offered to physicians and other health care professionals. Being able to recognize a “doctor shopper” patient or others trying to trick the system to gain access to narcotics is a skill some healthcare workers need to improve upon. While not becoming policemen themselves, it’s become an important part of medical practice to find and stop those who are trying to fool medical professionals. In a very real sense, doctors hold the keys to the goodies. They need to be vigilant.

One the other hand, medical professionals are encouraging emergency personnel, including police officers to have the tools available to address overdose situations at the scene, instead of waiting for EMS to arrive. For pharmacists, the new drug monitoring system requires they put information in a shared database to prevent patients from getting the same or similar narcotic from more than one pharmacy – a common way to double up on meds.


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