Has Prescription Monitoring Changed Painkiller Addiction?

Has Prescription Monitoring Changed Painkiller Addiction?

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs show promise in reducing drug abuse

The abuse and misuse of prescription drugs, especially opioid painkillers, has become a significant societal problem. Health and governmental agencies have addressed the issue in a number of ways including by enacting prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs). As the number of states utilizing the programs increases, so too does the evidence for their effectiveness.

Although there are program differences from state to state, all PDMPs share common elements. They are electronic database systems that collect information from pharmacies regarding the prescribing of controlled substances. States differ in who is allowed to access the information, but possibilities include pharmacists, prescribers, license boards, law enforcement, drug courts, medical examiners and addiction treatment programs. The data collected includes information on the patient, prescriber, pharmacy, drug and dose. Most systems collect information covering the past year.

PDMPs serve a number of functions. A 2011 fact sheet produced by the Office of National Drug Control Policy  (ONDCP) notes that the data can help prescribers avoid drug interactions. The information can serve as an early warning of drug epidemics and a tool for identifying insurance fraud. It can help identify clinicians who may prescribe medications inappropriately and patients who demonstrate drug-seeking behaviors.

Results of Implementing Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

PDMPs can be useful in addressing addiction and substance abuse to drugs like Xanax. Results of implementing PDMPs include the following:

  • Prescribing practices are altered, which may help prevent the development or continuation of addiction – The ONDCP fact sheet reports on a 2010 study finding that in 41% of emergency room cases, clinicians altered their prescribing plan after reviewing PDMP data. Some physicians (61%) prescribed less opioid pain medication than had been originally planned, and others (39%) prescribed a larger amount after determining that the patient had no recent history of abusing prescription drugs.
  • Patients who may be addicted to painkillers are identified so they can be helped – A 2013 publication by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services reported on the use of the PDMP in that state. The report noted that of clinicians who altered their prescribing after using the PDMP, over a third referred the patient to substance abuse treatment. A 2013 publication by the Center of Excellence at Brandeis University reports that a study of prescribers in Connecticut and Rhode Island determined that those who utilized the PDMP were more likely to respond in a clinically appropriate way to cases of suspected drug abuse such as by referring them for addiction treatment or conducting drug screens. In Oklahoma 21% of prescribers who utilized the PDMP referred patients to mental health professionals based on the data, and 64% referred patients to pain management specialists.
  • When PDMPs are utilized, it is more difficult to maintain an addiction to drugs like Xanax by doctor shopping (going from doctor to doctor in search of drug prescriptions) – Wyoming’s PDMP has a provision in which unsolicited reports are automatically generated when a patient exceeds a certain number of prescriptions received. This number declined indicating a change in behavior. The Brandeis study reported a similar finding in Nevada. When patients generated an automatic report, the number of controlled substance prescriptions for them during the following year fell by 41%. Likewise in Virginia the number of probable doctor shoppers dropped by 44% after PDMP data began to be widely used. In Florida the number of doctor-shoppers, defined as those who visited five or more prescribers and five or more pharmacies in 90 days, declined 35% after the inception of the PDMP. The report notes that drug-related deaths have also declined.
  • The utilization of PDMPs may lead to an overall reduction in the amount of painkillers prescribed – The ONDCP fact sheet notes that of the ten states with the highest number of prescriptions for the painkiller OxyContin, only two have PDMPs, and that of the ten states with the lowest amount, six do. In British Columbia unwarranted prescriptions for opioid painkillers fell 33% within the first six months of the inception of the program.
  • There is evidence to indicate that the utilization of PDMPs has lowered the rate of addiction to painkillers – The Brandeis report noted that states utilizing PDMPs have lower rates of admission to addiction treatment programs. Those states also have a lower number of opioid-related calls to poison control centers, an indirect measure of potential abuse or misuse.

If You Need Help, Give Us a Call

If you or someone you love has developed an addiction to prescription painkillers or to any other substance like to Xanax, we can assist you in finding the help you need. Call our toll-free helpline, and let us answer your questions about treatment. We can help you identify your options and can check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. The helpline is staffed 24 hours a day, so there is never a wrong time to call. Why not call now?

Are you ready to seek treatment?

If you are ready to beat a Xanax addiction and start a new life in recovery then we can help. We have admission counselors standing by 24 hours a day to take your email, live chat request, or phone call to get you in the addiction treatment center that best fits your unique & specific needs.