February 6, 2013
The Feb. 5, 2013 article, “Grooms Introduces Bill to Fight Prescription Drug Abuse,” draws attention to the critical need to prevent prescription drug misuse and its devastating and costly health and social consequences. While regulation of prescribing practices through prescription monitoring programs and better regulation of pain clinic practices are essential, unfortunately they are not sufficient to solve the problem. Addiction involving prescription drugs is just one expression of a complex brain disease affecting at least 16 percent of Americans--more than cancer, heart conditions or diabetes. Failure to educate all health care providers and the public about the health problem of risky substance use and the disease of addiction and how to prevent and treat these problems results in a costly game of whack-a-mole where success at cracking down on misuse of prescription drugs too often is replaced by misuse of other drugs. In addition to the measures proposed by the Grooms’ Bill, we must assure that all health professionals are well versed in how to prevent risky use, diagnose and treat addiction and in safe prescribing practices for controlled prescription drugs.
Susan E. Foster
Vice President and Director of Policy Research and Analysis
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia)