Many organizations will continue to focus on overdose prevention during 2015, and SPPAN stands ready to support these important efforts. We advocate for the safe use, security, and appropriate disposal of medications, and seek ways to assure this responsibility is shared among prescribers, pharmacists, and patients. SPPAN will support and increase awareness of Good Samaritan and naloxone availability legislation that increases access to appropriate treatment (e.g., naloxone) for individuals at risk of dying from overdoses. Related to substance abuse, we support rational policies that appropriately regulate the use of medication assisted treatment for addiction--for example, proof that counseling required by medication labels is taking place, and efforts to expand the number and type of providers providing this vital treatment. We advocate for reimbursement for, and integration of, better screening and referral for substance abuse treatment into the clinical work flow—Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) in particular.
While overuse and misuse of prescription drugs is a serious problem, a great deal of human pain and suffering remains inadequately treated. According to a 2011 Institute of Medicine report, Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education and Research, more than 100 million American adults suffer from chronic pain, with approximately 30 million disabled as a result. A comprehensive population health-level strategy for pain prevention, treatment, management and research is needed. Many people living with chronic pain require prescription opioids as part of their pain care regimen to function in their day-to-day lives. An unfortunate, but very important, aspect of pain management is the need to ensure the safety of the patient and the public through overdose prevention and treatment measures.
Successfully addressing the prescription drug abuse problem requires multiple interventions, in multiple areas. Taking a variety of steps to prevent overdoses will be key among those interventions.