Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

'Impressive Response' to Opioid Epidemic Might Be Paying Off

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

'Impressive Response' to Opioid Epidemic Might Be Paying Off

Article excerpt

FROM THE NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE

The abuse of prescription opioids plateaued and began to decline in recent years, after its alarming rise to epidemic levels in 2002-2010, according to a report published on-line in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Hundreds of programs have been implemented by local, state, and federal governments to limit opioid prescribing, reduce doctor shopping, improve questionable practices by pain clinics, and close "pill mills." Other organizations also have taken steps to stem the epidemic, such as formulating guidelines for responsible opioid prescribing, and new opioid formulations have been devised to resist tampering. "The impressive response to the epidemic is heartening, but the effect of these programs is not yet known," wrote Dr. Richard C. Dart of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, Denver, and his associates (N. Engl. J. Med. 2015 Jan. 15 [doi:10.1056/NEJM.sal406143]).

To assess such effects, the investigators analyzed data from five programs in the Researched Abuse, Diversion, and Addiction-Related Surveillance (RADARS) database for the years 2002 through 2013.

One program tracked cases reported to poison control centers that were classified as intentional abuse, another tracked investigations into prescription-drug diversion by law enforcement agencies, two more surveyed new patients entering substance abuse treatment about their recent drug use, and the fifth compiled college students' anonymous reporting of their recent use of prescription drugs. …

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