In Maine, a rare occurrence has happened in the state legislature; a task force has taken shape that includes members from both parties and they have a common goal in mind – a formalized assault on prescription drug abuse and addiction in the state produced a rare display of bi-partisan support for an aggressive attack on prescription drug abuse.
Based on a new report that called for an organized and aggressive government plan to stop the abuse of prescription drugs in the state, lawmakers rallied recently in support of coming up with a plan to fight the problem.
Said Rep. Meredith Strang Burgess, R-Cumberland: “This issue is so critical to what ails our state. The sooner, better, more efficiently and more effectively we deal with this, the state will be better off all the way around.”
Fighting Prescription Drug Abuse at the Top Levels
In the report were 33 recommendations that could serve to help fight prescription drug abuse in Maine. These included:
- Educational workshops on the dangers of over-prescribing medication for medical professionals
- Educational workshops for the public, especially patients
- Improved statewide databases meant to increase the ability of medical professionals and pharmacists to track who is getting what prescriptions filled and how often
- New requirement for patients to show ID when they pick up prescription painkillers
Maine’s Problem With Prescription Drugs
Maine is number one in the country when it comes to patients seeking help for painkiller addiction. About 1,400 people have died in Maine in the past 10 years due to prescription drug overdose. Though these numbers are not lost on lawmakers, it is perhaps the increased cost of state healthcare and law enforcement due to higher rates of crime and accidents that are related to prescription drug use that has made them finally sit up and take notice with the intent to do something about it.
The problem is money. Maine, like most states and the federal government, is struggling financially. There isn’t a lot of room for new programs. Though many of these ventures will save money in the long run, it’s not easy to find the money to pay for education and statewide databases up front.
What’s their first step? Committee members have voted to request the appointment of a Drug Disposal Task Force whose main function will be to provide methods of safely disposing of unwanted and unused medications, one of many ways in which prescription drug abuse gets started. Currently, that waste is shipped out of state at great expense.
So what do people in Maine living with a prescription drug addiction do if they are ready for treatment? Private rehabs are often a great choice – they allow the patient the opportunity to put space between themselves and their addiction and provide them with the care they need to heal.