The prescription opioid epidemic in the United States has led to a rise in addiction and premature deaths resulting from opioid overdoses. After years of over prescribing, these highly addictive narcotics have flooded American communities, crippling individuals and devastating families.
Nationwide efforts have been made to combat this deadly crisis, such as prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), the closing of “pill mills,” and the creation of prescription drug take-back programs. Collectively these methods have proven effective; PDMPs have diminished the ability to doctor shop – the act of going to multiple doctors for the same type of drugs. Prescription take-back programs have made it more difficult for these types of drugs to fall into the wrong hands.
Curbing the problem comes at a cost. Individual states are spending millions of dollars on programs such as these. Three years ago, Alameda County, CA, created an ordinance requiring big pharma to offset the costs of prescription drug take-back programs. The county prevailed, but the pharmaceutical companies were not going to lose without a fight.
The pharmaceutical industry feared, and they were right in doing so, that other parts of the country would follow the Alameda County initiative. After two previous attempts to get the ordinance overturned, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an industry request to review the lawsuit over the Alameda County prescription drug take-back program ordinance, The New York Times reports.
Three industry trade groups claimed the ordinance was unconstitutional. They believed that the law violates interstate commerce and discriminates against out-of-state companies through the shifting costs to drug makers.
Joining the Fight
Since the Alameda County ordinance passed, others have followed suit. Two more counties in California and one in Washington have adopted similar laws, according to the article. Scott Cassel, chief executive at the Product Stewardship Institute non-profit which supports take-back programs, found that at least a dozen other local governments around the country are considering similar ordinances.
“I think we’ll see a groundswell of both local and state governments,” says Cassel.
Facing Addiction Head On
Efforts which force the hand of pharmaceutical companies to share some of the burden of an epidemic they helped to create is a step in the right direction. However, simply making it more difficult for addicts to get their hands on prescription opioids is not enough. Many addicts will turn to the cheaper, stronger alternative – heroin.
Creating greater access to substance use disorder treatment facilities is of the utmost priority. Educating the public about the nature of prescription drug abuse, and the options available for recovering from addiction, will go a long way in the fight against this insidious issue.
Recovery is difficult process, but one that is well worth it. There are a number of different avenues to take on the road to recovery. At Next Step Intervention, we provide a variety of treatment options to choose from if you are looking for a new way of life – one free from addiction. If you are struggling with prescription opioids or any other mind altering substance, please do not hesitate to reach out for help.