In 2015, the transition from prescription painkillers to heroin emerged as startling headlines, and attention to this growing crisis went all the way up to the White House. Together with our Medicine Abuse Project partners, we made important contributions to President Obama’s plan to address the opioid crisis, helping prevent a new generation of users.
Download and read the full report of the successes of the Medicine Abuse Project in 2015.
Advocating for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA)
The Partnership joined with hundreds of our volunteer families to advocate for legislation that would increase prevention, treatment and recovery services. Included in the legislation are positive steps to train parents and caretakers on opioid misuse; implementation of Naloxone training for law enforcement; inclusion of evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention programs; more access to medication-assisted treatment; and adding comprehensive prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP) to help track the dispensing of opioids. Nearly 5,000 petition signatures collected in support of CARA were hand-delivered to key members of Congress.
Using Technology to Curb Opioid Abuse
The Partnership advocated for legislation aimed at giving patients greater access to prescription medication with abuse-deterrent formulations (ADF) by requiring affordable insurance coverage. Abuse-deterrent formulations have properties that make them more difficult to alter in order to gain an illicit high; they lose their “high” when crushed, injected or manipulated. While advancements like ADF aren’t the only solutions to solving the national prescription drug abuse problem, it is a common-sense approach to potentially help another family from losing a child.
Bringing Life-Saving Kits and Training to New Jersey Families
Together with dedicated parent volunteers and the Community Coalition for a Safe & Healthy Morris (CCSHM), an initiative of Morris County Prevention is Key (MCPIK), we launched a first-of-its-kind effort to address a community’s local heroin and opioid crisis. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, with no potential for abuse, that reverses respiratory failure in overdoses associated with opioid use. Free Naloxone kits, and training in their proper use, were provided to community members, equipping them with the knowledge and materials to respond to and reverse an overdose, should one occur.
Parent Workshops and Film Screenings
The success of the Partnership’s 2013 documentary, Out of Reach, continued to provide opportunities to speak with parents about the dangers of medicine abuse. We hosted multiple events across the country, including a screening with REACT to FILM which focused on the steps families can take toward prevention and when they are confronted with the need for intervention.
Research Uncovers Disconnect in Communications Between Prescribers and Patients
Results of a survey fielded in collaboration with the American Cancer Society, the American Academy of Pain Management and Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals to gain a better understanding of the interactions between opioid-prescribing health care providers and patients confirmed several disconnects in communication.
A majority of prescribers say they discuss the potential of dependence or addiction with their pain patients, with two-thirds of primary care physicians and half of pain management specialists reporting they “always” provide such information. However, when asked who, if anyone, had explained to them the potential for becoming dependent or addicted to prescription painkillers, 19 percent of chronic pain patients and 40 percent of acute pain patients said “no one.” These disconnects have the potential to make patients more vulnerable to misuse and abuse of pain medication, which in turn can lead to dependence or addiction to prescribed or illegal opioids.
Pro-bono Media and Agency Partners Continue to Deliver “Mind Your Meds” Message
Ad agency Vitro, working entirely pro-bono, produced new print and banner advertising to alert parents to the dangers of prescription drug abuse and empower them to do something about it. Building on the successful “Mind Your Meds” campaign, the ads’ call-to-action leads viewers to visit this website and learn the best ways to safeguard and dispose of medicine. Thanks to the continued generosity of media partners, these and all of our important public service messages about medicine abuse reached parents throughout the U.S. via $13 million in pro-bono media support.