health care

Drug-monitoring programs found to reduce abuse

Posted 8/27/12

PROVIDENCE – The use by providers of a prescription drug monitoring program reduced abuse of prescription painkillers and increased demand for drug treatment programs, according to a study conducted by Rhode Island Hospital researcher Traci C. Green.

The study, published online in advance of the print edition of the journal Pain Medicine, surveyed 1,385 providers in Rhode Island and Connecticut regarding their use of prescription monitoring programa, or PMP. The study found that use of such a monitoring program in Connecticut was greater, where an electronic PMP is available.

The researchers surveyed providers in both states who are licensed to prescribe Schedule II medications, including morphine, Dilaudid, Demerol, oxycodone, fentanyl and methamphetamine, among others. These medications have a high potential for abuse, which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

Such programs are used to gather information about a patient’s prescription history; they are able to identify potential abuse problems by verifying patients’ self-reported prescription history, by determining if the patient is filling multiple prescriptions of the same drug from multiple providers.

Both states have reported significant increases in deaths related to prescription painkillers; overdose has surpassed motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of unintentional injury death.

A national survey indicates that Rhode Island has the highest per capita illicit drug use and ranks third, behind Oklahoma and Oregon, for nonmedical use of prescription opioids among persons age 12 or older.

“Prescription drug monitoring programs have historically been oriented to criminal and judicial end users,” Green said. “Clinicians, not law enforcement, have the medical and behavioral health care expertise to guide patients struggling with addiction to get the help they need, when they are ready for it.PMPs can be an important clinical tool to address possible addiction issues and start that conversation.”

In an unrelated matter, Rhode Island will kick off its celebration of National Recovery month on Aug. 31 at the Bernadette Building, 40 Howard Ave. in Cranston, at 10 a.m. It will feature a recovery quilt crafted from individual recovery messages created on felt squares at the 2011 rally.

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