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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Doctors' Role in the Opioid Epidemic

prescription opioids
The United States continues to face an unprecedented epidemic with regard to drug use, specifically involving prescription opioid and heroin. So it would stand to reason that solutions require an unprecedented approach. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have come around to the reality that we can no longer wage war on drug dealing and addiction, but rather provide those battling with substance use disorder the resources necessary to recover. Addiction treatment services are more effective than prison cells.

For the first time in our Nation’s history, we have a director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), commonly referred to as the “drug czar,” that knows firsthand the nature of addiction. ONDCP head Michael Botticelli, battled with addiction and found recovery, and now he works to implement effective measures against the scourge of opioid use taking 70 lives a day. Botticelli recently spoke with USA TODAY, where he pointed out that doctors and drug companies played a huge role in creating the issue we find ourselves in.

“The root cause of our opiate epidemic has been the over-prescribing of prescription pain medications,” Botticelli told the USA TODAY Editorial Board. “Physicians get little to no training related to addiction in general, but particularly around opiate prescriptions.”

As the epidemic continues, it is widely accepted that both pharmaceutical companies and primary care physicians are largely responsible for the dire situation we face. If lawmakers are going to move away from draconian drug laws, physicians need to adopt new ways of addressing patient pain and utilize the resources available to reduce addiction rates. Identifying at-risk patients or those who meet the criteria for opioid use disorder.

Informing such patients about the risks of continued use and what options are available for recovery is one of the best weapons against a type of addiction that affects millions of Americans. Please take a moment to watch a short interview below:

If you are having trouble watching the video, please click here.

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