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Prescription Drug Use Prevention

As prescription drug abuse is increasingly recognized as a serious and growing problem in the United States, the government has been working to address the problem. Through the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the government has been trying to educate parents, teachers, medical professionals and others about the dangers posed by prescription drug abuse. NIDA includes a Web site (www.nida.hih.gov) that provides information on drug abuse, including prescription drug abuse. But this is not the only action being taken. In October 2007, testimony was giving by officials in the Health and Human Services (HHS) department of the government about prescription drug monitoring programs.

Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are designed to help coordinate different entities in monitoring prescription drug abuse and working toward prevention. These PDMPs are state-administered programs that receive federal funding and support resources. Most such programs consist of coordinated efforts between law enforcement and pharmacy boards.

According to the HHS, there are common objectives that help to create an overall message of prescription drug abuse prevention.


1. Education

The government feels that education is an important element of prescription drug abuse prevention. Education and knowledge goes beyond spreading the word about the dangers of using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. Most of these prescription drug monitoring programs gather data and then analyze it and provide trend information to health care professionals and to the public. This can help local prevention programs pinpoint specific problems and decide where the most effective use of resources would be.

2. Public health initiatives

In addition to disseminating information, the government is also interested in taking an active role in creating public health initiatives that lead to reduce prescription drug abuse. Data gathered can be used by states to develop appropriate laws and set up programs that can help prevent abuse. Public health initiatives can also provide appropriate monitoring through pharmacies and other health care professionals.

3. Early intervention

PDMPs are meant to provide the necessary resources to detect problems earlier than before. Early intervention is meant to provide doctors and other health care professional with the necessary tools to detect prescription drug abuse in its early stages. Additionally, information gathered can further help discover trends and figure out how to better funnel resources into prescription drug abuse prevention.

4. Law enforcement

Prescription drug monitoring programs are also designed to help law enforcement officials. Databases are set up to help with information and evidence gathering. Illegal activities associated with prescription drug abuse can be tracked and prosecuted, when appropriate. This can be a deterrent for some when it comes to prescription drug abuse, and it can encourage practitioners to be more conscientious about prescribing drugs to their patients.

The government insists that it maintains confidentiality, and that privacy is respected for patients.

Money is also being set aside for fiscal year 2008 for substance abuse prevention, including abuse of prescription drugs. The department of Health and Human Services reports that $504 million is being set aside for discretionary grants for treatment and prevention programs for substance abuse.

Government guidelines for disposing of prescription drugs

In order to reduce prescription drug abuse, the government has issued a set of guidelines. These guidelines are designed to encourage Americans to help prevent prescription drug abuse by taking some of the following actions when disposing of expired, unneeded or unused medicine:

However, no matter the actions the government takes in terms of prescription drug abuse, it is up to us to do our part as well. Dispose of prescription medications properly, and be on the lookout for signs of prescription drug abuse among loved ones.