Attempts to Crack Down on Prescription Opiate Abuse Backfire

The prescription drug epidemic that has gripped our nation in its iron fist for the past 15 years is finally beginning to stabilize. While many people credit government crackdown efforts with the slow decline in rates of prescription drug abuse, the fact is that many people who became addicted to prescription opiates are now turning to riskier hard drugs – heroin, to be exact. Here at our outpatient detox Delray Beach facility, we’ve seen a decided uptick in the numbers of opiate addicts seeking help for heroin addiction. Alarmingly, many of them claim they started out on prescription painkillers.

PDMPs Are Breeding Heroin Addicts, Harming Legitimate Pain Patients

Prescription drug monitoring programs or PDMPs have been lawmakers’ answer to pill mills and doctor shopping. It wasn’t so long ago that we here at our outpatient detox Delray felt helpless to interfere as prescription opiate addicts came from around the nation to obtain illegal painkillers from Florida’s pill mills. The natural solution appeared to be to keep a record of each person who receives a prescription for a controlled substance, and flag that person for suspicious behavior whenever he or she might obtain prescriptions from multiple pharmacies or doctors in a given month.

While these registries were established in many states with the best of intentions, they’ve had two unintended consequences. For one thing, they’ve made it harder for legitimate pain sufferers – the people who need these medications in order to treat chronic and acute pain and function normally – to get the medication that works for them. Many doctors will no longer prescribe opiate painkillers at all, even when their use would be legitimately recommended, out of fear of the harm that could come to them or their reputation if a pain patient found his or her way into our outpatient detox Delray Beach program for opiate addiction treatment.

Second, PDMPs have made it next to impossible for prescription painkiller addicts to get the pills to which they’re addicted. Rather than giving up drugs, they simply find another drug. In this case, more users are turning to heroin to fend off their opiate withdrawal symptoms. Clearly, prescription painkiller addicts needed to be given access to programs like our outpatient detox Delray Beach program in addition to having their drug supply cut off.

Outpatient Detox Delray Finds Drug Testing the Unemployed Creates More Addicts, Not Fewer

The state of Texas has implemented mandatory drug testing for people claiming unemployment benefits, and other states may soon do the same. Unemployed people who fail state drug tests would lose their benefits.

However, the fear of losing benefits isn’t going to be sufficient to keep an addict from using drugs – only treatment can do that. In fact, our outpatient detox Delray experts worry that drug testing the unemployed will only encourage them to turn away from drugs that stay in the system for days or weeks, and instead start using faster-acting, but more dangerous and addictive synthetic drugs that tests are unlikely to detect. Cutting benefits will only drive the addicted into more heavy substance abuse and put up more obstacles to treatment.

Tightened Controls on Painkillers Penalize Innocent People

Less than one percent of the people who are currently receiving painkillers for chronic pain abuse them. But an advisory panel to the FDA voted in January to tighten controls on these drugs, requiring new doctor visits for each refill of a drug containing hydrocodone, and strict limits on the amount of the drug doctors are able to prescribe at one time. Patients can now take home only a 30-day supply of pain meds – meaning patients suffering chronic pain must now visit the doctor each month to get their medication.

Patients who need these drugs will have to pay more out-of-pocket for insurance costs or may have to start taking less effective drugs. They may not be able to find a doctor willing to treat them. They’ll suffer more pain if they’re unable to get the medicine they need. And these controls are unlikely to have any effect on prescription drug abuse, according to our outpatient detox Delray experts.

Reformulating OxyContin Increased Abuse of Other Potent Painkillers

The manufacturers of OxyContin reformulated their drug in 2010, hoping to reduce its potential for abuse. While OxyContin did sustain a huge drop in popularity, that shift was accompanied by a surge in the popularity of hydromorphone, fentanyl and heroin. These drugs are far more potent, dangerous and addictive than prescription painkillers, and have been responsible for a dramatic increase in overdose deaths.

The real solution to the opiate epidemic is treatment. If you know someone who is struggling with opiate addiction – or if you’re struggling with it yourself – our outpatient detox Delray Beach facility can help.

Call us today at 888-699-5679.