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Americans skeptical about federal efforts to curb prescription drug abuse

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prescription drug abuse is at epidemic levels. Overdose deaths caused by prescription narcotics and sedatives have tripled since 1990 and numbered nearly 15,000 in 2008 – more than cocaine and heroin combined. 

In response to the large-scale misuse of these substances, many states made it more difficult to access prescription painkillers through the implementation of drug monitoring databases and imposing harsher penalties on physicians who abuse their prescription-writing privileges. While these measures have been effective, many Americans do not think that they go far enough, according to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. Only 16 percent of those polled said that the nation is making progress on dealing with prescription drug abuse. Thirty-seven percent said that public health and law enforcement officials were actually losing ground on the issue. 

This pessimism may be the result of the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) acquiescence to pushback from medical groups regarding the implementation of tighter restrictions regarding opioid-based painkillers. The FDA has proposed that prescription narcotics be reclassified as Schedule II drugs, meaning that they have a higher potential to be misused. This would limit the number of refills available and require patients to go to a pharmacy with a prescription in-hand, instead of having a doctor call it in. 

The American Medical Association and several pharmacy groups have said that such a proposal could create undue hardships for patients who actually suffer from chronic pain. 

Whether or not you think that the government can stop prescription drug abuse nationwide, you can at least keep these substances out of your home. If someone in your life is addicted to prescription drugs, contact Intervention Services today. 

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