Some new prescription drug recommendations from the American College of Physicians to help prevent medication overuse seem helpful, such as encouraging more educational and preventive efforts.
Other positive recommendations include setting up a prescription drug-monitoring program to allow physicians to check a registry to make sure that patients aren’t “doctor shopping” or already taking certain prescription medications. This could go a long way toward ensuring that prescriptions are given out as appropriately as possible. The prescription drug recommendations also support medical research related to addiction, which could prove to be helpful.
A Disorder Database?
One disquieting aspect of the American College of Physicians’ prescription drug recommendations is that people who are deemed “at risk” for substance use disorder will be identified in a federal database. Those who would fall into the “at risk” category would include people with a family history of addiction. Nicotine users would be included in the database, since they are considered at increased risk for developing addiction to extended-release opiates.
Before we develop a federal registry of citizens who may require special attention when prescribed addictive agents, let’s clarify exactly what “at risk” means. Furthermore, “substance use disorder” is a better way to define the problem than the term “abuse.”
The American College of Physicians’ efforts could go a long way toward lowering the prevalence of drug misuse in this country. But someone who takes medication for a legitimate ailment who happens to have an alcoholic parent or be a chain smoker shouldn’t be over-scrutinized or stigmatized.