Updated September 2 at 6:02pm

R.I., Mass. rank among top states for drug abuse prevention

Rhode Island and Massachusetts join 15 other U.S. states with a score of at least 8/10 for promising strategies to curb prescription drug abuse, according to a new report by the Trust for America’s Health.

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R.I., Mass. rank among top states for drug abuse prevention

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PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island and Massachusetts join 15 other U.S. states with a score of at least 8/10 for promising strategies to curb prescription drug abuse, according to a new report by the Trust for America’s Health.

The report, “Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic,” evaluated states’ drug abuse prevention programs by scoring 10 indicators, including prescription drug monitoring programs and support for treatment, legislation aiming to prevent substance abuse and aid individuals who experience an overdose, and education and guidance for health care providers who prescribe controlled substances.

Only two states – New Mexico and Vermont – scored a perfect 10. Massachusetts, New York, Washington and Kentucky scored 9/10, and Rhode Island joined 10 other states including Connecticut with a score of 8/10.

Maine and New Hampshire both scored 5/10.

According to the report, the number of drug overdose deaths doubled in 29 states between 1999 and 2010, including in Rhode Island, which has the 13th highest drug overdose mortality rate in the country with 15.5 deaths per 100,000 people.

Massachusetts’ drug overdose mortality rate ranks 32nd in the country with 11 deaths per 100,000 people. Drug overdose deaths in Massachusetts increased 47 percent between 1999 and 2010.

More than half of U.S. states and the District of Columbia scored 6/10 or less on the drug policy report card.

“Fifty Americans die a day from prescription drug overdoses, and more than 6 million suffer from prescription drug abuse disorders,” said Andrea Gielen, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, in a release accompanying the report. “We must use the best lessons we know from other public health and injury prevention success stories to work in partnership with clinical care, law enforcement, the business community, community-based organizations and other partners to work together to curb this crisis.”

Currently one in 10 Americans with a substance abuse disorder receives treatment, the report stated.

“Prescription drugs can be a miracle for many, but misuse can have dire consequences,” said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the Trust for America’s Health, in the release. “The rapid rise of abuse requires nothing short of a full-scale response – starting with prevention and education all the way through to expanding and modernizing treatment. There are many promising signs that we can turn this around – but it requires urgent action.”

To read the full report, visit www.healthyamericans.org.

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