Over the past two decades, the number of prescriptions for opiate-based painkillers has tripled, while dosages have grown stronger
Elaine and Steve Pozycki
The prime source for the national explosion of opiate addiction — whether in the form of painkillers such as OxyContin or in the form of illegal street drugs such as heroin — is the dramatic increase in the use of opiate-based prescription drugs. Over the past 20 years, there has been a threefold increase in the number of prescriptions issued for opiate-based painkillers, as well as a major step-up in dosage, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Healthcare providers wrote 259 million prescriptions in 2012 alone. Further, it has been well-documented that some people when they can no longer get access to prescription painkillers feed their opiate addiction by turning to heroin.
The costs in lost and ruined lives from what the CDC refers to as a “national epidemic” of opiate addiction continue to rise. Drug overdoses are the number one cause of accidental death in the United States. In 2010, nearly 20,000 people died from an overdose of opiates — nearly 17,000 from prescription painkillers and an additional 3,000 from heroin. It is time for a comprehensive approach that matches the scale of the problem and that begins at its source—the overprescribing of prescription painkillers and the underinforming of patients about the risks of this medication and possible alternatives
We are pleased to report that there is legislation moving through the New Jersey legislature that does exactly that. Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-37th) and Senator Joe Vitale (D-19th) are putting forward a proposed law (S-2366) requiring physicians and other health practitioners to discuss with a patient the risks of physical and psychological addiction and the availability of potential alternative medications, before issuing a prescription for an opiate-based painkiller.
In cases where the patient is under 18 years old, this discussion must take place with a parent or a guardian From the harm that too many of our children and families have experienced because a teenager becomes addicted to opiates, we know just how important providing this essential knowledge can be. To ensure compliance with the essential provisions of this legislation, the practitioner must obtain a written acknowledgement from the patient or the patient’s parent or guardian that this discussion has taken place.
The need for moving forward with this kind of approach is underscored by the American Academy of Neurology’s recent determination that the risks of powerful narcotic painkillers outweigh their benefits for treating chronic headaches, low back pain, and fibromyalgia. The Academy noted that 50 percent of patients who took opioids for at least three months are still on them five years later.
Further, more appropriate and limited prescribing of prescription painkillers will help reduce heroin use by reducing the number of people who crave opiates. AS CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., said, “Addressing prescription opioid abuse by changing prescribing is likely to prevent heroin use in the long term
Just as importantly, there is strong public support in New Jersey for this approach. In a recent FDU Public Mind Poll, more than two-out-of-three New Jersey parents indicated support for a law requiring that they be notified if their child’s prescription contained potentially addictive medication
We are pleased to report that this legislation, one component of a comprehensive package aimed at taking on New Jersey’s addiction problem passed the Senate recently, by a margin of 36 to 1. Still, there is a long way to go before final passage and it will require all of us to make our voices heard. It is particularly important for people to communicate their support to their Assembly members, since that is the next hurdle, we anticipate an open and fair discussion of this legislation in the Assembly Health Committee chaired by Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-7th) soon after the New Year.
Senator Weinberg and Vitale’s legislation (S-2366 ) is a critical prevention measure which attacks the problem directly at its source. Treatment after the fact is still important to do, but because of the brain changes caused by opiate addiction, it is a hard, difficult road to recovery for too many and the results are hit or miss. We must put preventing addiction in the first place at the forefront and that begins with passing this essential measure.
Elaine and Steve Pozycki are board members of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, with Elaine serving as co-chair. Steve Pozycki is the founder, chairman, and CEO of SJP Properties.
It’s been an epidemic in Ocean County this year, and now it’s being called an epidemic in Monmouth County. And it’s killing teens.
Heroin. Ten dollars a pack. Easy for your kids to get a hold of. Addicting and deadly. So…you might want to say ‘not my kid’ but you will be shocked at the information below:
In the Freehold Regional High School District alone, 721 kids have sought professional help for a heroin addiction. At Manasquan High School, 164 teens are hooked on heroin. 37 young people have died from a heroin overdose so far this year. And it’s everywhere around these beautiful Jersey Shore towns.
So how are your teens’ friends and fellow students getting hooked on heroin? 80 percent begin using with their friends, and then get hooked on it and will hide the addiction and the heroin, using alone…until they overdose.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office is starting to hit the schools to tell parents and students what is going on and spread the word. Ocean County Prosecutors are doing the same….even more young people have died there from heroin.
And to make matters even worse, the heroin in our area is stronger than around the rest of the country, making it even more deadly.
Here’s what can save your child: Communication. Keep talking about saying NO to drugs. And tell your kids how much you love them. Because of those kids in a recent study who stayed drug free, most said they did so because they did not want to disappoint their parents.
So, next time your kids say they’re ‘hanging out’……don’t assume that everything is okay. Don’t say ‘it’s not my kid.’ Keep your eyes and ears open. Get your kids talking. Love them. And please keep them safe the best way you can.
By Rick Nauert PhDSenior News Editor Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on June 5, 2013
Emerging evidence shows that a proactive approach works to reduce substance abuse among young adults.
In a new study, researchers at Penn State and Iowa State University found that young adults cut their overall prescription drug misuse up to 65 percent if they are part of a community-based prevention effort while still in middle school.
The reduced substance use is significant considering the dramatic increase in prescription drug abuse, said Richard Spoth, Ph.D., director of the Partnerships in Prevention Science Institute at Iowa State.
The research, published in the American Journal of Public Health, focused on programs designed to reduce the risk for substance misuse.
Additionally, researchers found significant reduction rates for methamphetamine, marijuana, alcohol, cigarette and inhalant use.
Teens and young adults also had better relationships with parents, improved life skills and few problem behaviors in general. These findings are reported in a recent issue of the journal Preventive Medicine.
The research is part of a partnership between Iowa State and Penn State known as PROSPER — Promoting School-Community-University Partnerships to Enhance Resilience.
PROSPER administers scientifically proven prevention programs in a community-based setting with the help of the extension systems in land grant universities.
“An important reason that the PROSPER programs are effective in reducing early substance use and conduct problems is that they are carefully timed to fit the needs of early adolescents and their parents,” said Penn State’s Mark T. Greenberg, Ph.D.
The results are based on follow-up surveys that Spoth’s and Greenberg’s teams conducted with families and teens during the six years after the teens completed PROSPER.
Researchers developed the prevention programs in the 1980s and 1990s to target specific age groups. A key aspect of the program is understanding when and why adolescents experiment with drugs.
“We think the programs work well because they reduce behaviors that place youth at higher risk for substance misuse and conduct problems,” Spoth said.
“We time the implementation of these interventions so they’re developmentally appropriate. That’s not too early, not too late; about the time when they’re beginning to try out these new risky behaviors that ultimately can get them in trouble.”
PROSPER intervention includes a combination of family-focused and school-based programs.
The study involved 28 communities, evenly split between Iowa and Pennsylvania. The programs start with students in the sixth grade. The goal is to teach parents and children the skills they need to build better relationships and limit exposure to substance use.
“Two skills that students learn in the school-based programs are how to be more assertive and how to solve complex situations with their friends,” said Greenberg, founding director of Penn State’s Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development.
“As a result they are more comfortable with refusing to do something that might lead to trouble or doing things that they will later regret.”
And parents say the program works.
“We also support parents to be more aware of how to communicate with their teens, and to be more attuned to what their children are doing, who they’re with, where they’re going so that they can effectively monitor, supervise and communicate with their children,” said Greenberg.
Experts say the ongoing community partnerships are evidence of the PROSPER program’s sustainability.
Researchers say that the outcomes extend beyond a reduction in prescription drug or marijuana use.
That is, substance abuse often leads to other problem behaviors, so prevention can have a ripple effect and cut down on problems in school and violent behaviors in general.
Accordingly, program benefits may be measured in economic terms as well as the overall health and outlook of the community.
Parents still don’t get it. Kids will use these drugs to keep them up to study and get through finals. I remember back in the day, they used caffeine pills. Adderall and Ritalin are not caffeine pills. They are more dangerous and addicting when not used properly!!
Not MyKid: Most Parents Unaware Teen Using Study Drugs
Many parents are not aware that their teenage children abuse “study
drugs,” a new poll suggests.
In the poll, just 1 percent of parents said their teenage children had taken drugs such as Adderall or Ritalin without a prescription.
That is much lower than the percentage of teens that surveys suggest are using the drugs. For example, a 2012 study of high schoolers found that about 10 percent of sophomores and 12 percent of seniors said they had used the drugs without a prescription.
The new finding highlights the growing issue of stimulant drug abuse, or when teens take stimulant medication (or “study drugs”) to help them study for a test or stay awake to do homework. Such medications are prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Teens without the condition may fake symptoms in order to get a prescription, or obtain the drugs from friends.
The new findings, from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, examined parents’ awareness of the issue, surveying parents of U.S. children ages 13 to 17. About 11 percent of parents said their teens had been prescribed stimulant medication for ADHD.
Among parents of children who were not prescribed ADHD medications, 1 percent said their teens had used these drugs for study purposes. About 4 percent said they didn’t know if their teen had abused these drugs, and 95 percent said their teens had never abused the drugs.
This disconnect between teen drug abuse and parents’ awareness of drug abuse may be in part due to the fact that study drugs have more subtle effects than drugs such as heroin and cocaine, allowing teens to more easily hide their drug use, the researchers said.
About half of parents polled said they were very concerned about teens in their communities abusing study drugs. And more than three-quarters supported school policies aimed at stopping this type of drug abuse, such as rules that would require children with prescription ADHD medications to keep the pills in a secure place like the school nurse’s office.
The findings “underscore the need for greater communication among public health officials, schools, parents, and teens regarding this issue,” the researchers said.