Five ways to combat prescription drug abuse

Prescription drug abuse is a serious public health problem that has reached crisis levels across the United States. The governors of five New England states met earlier this week to discuss how to combat prescription drug abuse and diversion. The American Medical Association hopes they will focus on a five-pronged comprehensive, public health approach that emphasizes treatment and prevention. 

The approach includes:

  1. Continued balance and state flexibility to guide policy and effectively curb prescription drug abuse, overuse, misuse and death
  2. State licensing boards, public health agencies, state medical and pharmacy associations, and other stakeholders should work together toward solutions that will reduce prescription drug abuse, overdose and death — including community based prevention as well as increased access to treatment for substance use disorders
  3. State governors should discuss how to incorporate prescription drug monitoring programs into their state strategies, including support for the use of of these programs that can provide reliable, real-time data at the point of care and are interoperable with other states, state agencies and health care professionals
  4. States should work to support a full range of clinical treatment services and have policies in place that encourage treatment and prevention
  5. Further discussion is encouraged regarding how enhanced education, increased use of drug courts and removing unwanted and unused medications from communities as treatment and prevention strategies can be much more effective than one-size-fits-all mandate