A few days ago we shared some facts about the impact prescription drug abuse is having on our nation. Continuing the spirit of Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month in Ohio, we decided to share some good news regarding what is being done about this issue on the national and local levels.
- In April, President Obama announced a national strategy to reduce the misuse of painkillers by 15 percent within five years. This will be accomplished with education, increased law enforcement and pill-tracking databases.
- The Food & Drug Administration launched a “risk evaluation and mitigation strategy” (REMS) to update medical guides on painkillers and communicate risk information to both doctors and patients.
- Pharmaceutical companies are working to redesign their painkillers to reduce abuse.
- The DEA began a prescription drug take back program last year. This program encourages local agencies to establish collection times and locations for people to drop off old and unused painkillers.
- In May, Governor Kasich signed House Bill 93 requiring pain clinics to obtain special licenses, to increase the state’s prescription monitoring program, and limit the amount of painkillers a doctor can dispense from the office. HB 93 also addresses other related issues.
- Ohio is working with fellow “opiate express” states Kentucky, West Virginia and Florida to establish a system to make it hard to illegally get, transport and sell Rx drugs between the states.
- Opiate Task Forces have been set up to focus on the issue in 23 of Ohio’s hardest hit counties.
- Ohio legislators are debating several bills that address a variety of prescription drug abuse related issues.
As many government leaders have mentioned, we are facing a problem of epic proportions and must take steps to fight back. Education is one of the ways to do this. Sharing information about the impact of prescription drug abuse is helpful, as well as sharing information about what is being done to counter the abuse. We know it sounds cliché, but knowledge is power. Please help us spread the news about prescription drug abuse.
More information about prescription drug abuse can be found by visiting the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
June is Prescription (Rx) Drug Abuse Awareness month in Ohio. While it would probably be good for this to be a nationally recognized awareness month since more people die of Rx overdoses than crack/cocaine and heroin overdoses combined, everyone at Working Partners® thinks this is a great time to draw awareness to the prescription drug issue in our state.
Recently we have shared a lot of information about prescription drugs in our newsletter, e-blast trainings and speaking opportunities – so it is time that our blog got in on the action for Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month. Here are some facts and information that you might not have known.
- Over the last nine years, death due to accidental drug overdoses has increased 350% (the majority due to painkillers).
- The U.S. uses over 80% of the world’s opioids.
- According to Quest Diagnostics, positive Rx drug test results have been rising since 2007.
- In Florida, Broward County has more pill mills than McDonalds – 115 pill mills vs. about 70 McDonalds.
- Between January and June 2010, the DEA reported medical practitioners in Florida purchased nearly 41 million oxycodone doses – 44 times more than the second highest number (927,000 doses) purchased in Ohio.
If you don’t think prescription drug abuse is happening in Ohio, consider:
- In May, three dozen people, including a retired physician, were arrested for trafficking oxycodone into Ohio – moving up to 500 pills a week into the state.
- Ohio ranks number 11 in accidental drug overdoses in the nation.
- In 2007, unintentional drug poisoning became the leading cause of death, beating out motor vehicle crashes and suicides, in Ohio.
- Until a recent DEA search warrant was served, Ohio was home to one of the largest pill mills in the nation.
- Four Ohioans die every day because of drug-related overdoses.
There is no argument that painkillers, like oxycodone, serve an important role in pain management, but they can be highly addictive when used incorrectly. We want people to be aware of the impact prescription drug abuse has had on our state and our nation. Please join us this month during Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Month, (and all other months) and spread the word about prescription drug abuse.
For more Ohio related information on prescription drugs visit Healthy Ohio’s website.
HB 64 Introduced 2/1/11 – to add synthetic cannabinoids commonly known as K2 or Spice to the list of Schedule I controlled substances, prohibit the possession of Spice, prohibit trafficking of Spice, and provide that if Spice is the drug involved in a violation of the offense of corrupting another with drugs the penalty for the violation will be the same as if marijuana was the drug involved in the offense.
HB 93 Introduced 2/9/11 – to require licensure and standards for pain management clinics; establish drug “take back” programs; modify the state’s existing Rx reporting system; and require modifications to the Medicaid managed care system as it relates to Rx drugs.
SB 69 Introduced 2/10/11 – to establish a drug testing requirement for adults who apply for need-based programs that provide cash assistance, medical assistance, housing assistance, food assistance or energy assistance.
These three bills, along with HB 80 were written to help prevent drug abuse. Learn more about HB 80 and how Working Partners can help you comply.
Across the country, states are trying to find funding through excise taxes on alcohol. Some believe that as prices rise, demand will go down, potentially lessening the costs of workplace alcohol abuse.
Maryland is one of the states hoping an alcohol tax increase will decrease societal costs. The state is optimistic that a “dime a drink” tax will reduce the consumption rate by 4.25 percent while creating $215.6 million in new revenue. Maryland legislators base these estimates on a report co-authored by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Boston University School of Public Health.
Other states are looking at similar plans. Florida is considering a 1 percent hike, with proceeds going to substance abuse treatment. Likewise, Idaho may introduce legislation aimed at raising taxes to help replace its addiction treatment services, after funding for these programs decreased 1.3 million under 2011’s budget.
West Virginia and Montana have tried to stabilize treatment funding through new taxes but failed to get approval. Massachusetts fought off a repeal of a 2009 tax increase, in which addiction programs were at risk of losing up to $100 million from tax revenues.
While these taxes may help prevent some workplace alcohol abuse, it will continue to be a problem for many companies. Learn more about an effective drug-free workplace program.
With the help of ESPN and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), Washington University in St. Louis has conducted an original study on the effects of pain killer use on retirees from the National Football League (NFL). The NFL stresses a drug free employment policy by regularly drug testing players while they are employed. The study, conducted from March to August 2010, surveyed 644 players who had retired between 1979 and 2006. Over 53 percent of those asked to participate responded.
The report found that 52 percent of respondents had used opioids while still active in the NFL, and 71 percent of them had misused while still playing. Those who had misused while active were three times more likely to have misused in the last 30 days than those with a prescription. Sixty-three percent of those who used opioids while still playing had received them from someone other than a doctor.
The study officially concludes, “Players who misused during their NFL career were most likely to misuse currently compared to others. Current misuse was associated with more NFL pain, undiagnosed concussions and heavy drinking. Longitudinal studies are needed to determine the long term effects of opioid misuse among athletes.”
Opioid abuse is not just in the NFL, though. Many businesses could benefit from drug testing and a drug free employment policy.
A recent literature review spanning several decades of research and alcohol abuse statistics links alcohol use as a risk factor for a variety of social issues, which range from injuries, disease, morbidity rates, and mortality rates to social injustices. The research also shows an inverse correlation between taxes and alcohol usage. In other words, history has shown that when tax rates for alcohol are higher, usage does go down.
Specifically, the meta-analysis looked at 50 articles relating to the effect of alcohol tax and price levels on the following social ills:
- Morbidity and mortality outcome
- Traffic safety
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and risky sexual behavior
- Drug use
The results show an inverse relationship for all categories except suicide. Overall, researchers concluded that raising taxes on alcohol does reduce instances of related problems. They estimate that doubling taxes would reduce related mortality by 35 percent; traffic deaths by 11 percent; STDs by 6 percent; crime by 1.2 percent; and violence by 2 percent.
The information should serve as a guide to local officials in forecasting the effects of raising taxes and setting pricing minimums.
Alcohol abuse statistics show that 19.2 million U.S. workers reported using or being impaired by alcohol at work at least once, and that can cause injuries and death in the workplace. Contact us to learn more alcohol abuse statistics and how Working Partners can help you maintain an alcohol free workplace.