New England Governors Devise Plan to Tackle Heroin and Painkiller Abuse

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The governors of five New England states announced Tuesday they are working together to tackle heroin and prescription painkiller abuse, The New York Times reports. The governors of Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts described the agreement at a press conference.

The states will share data on painkiller prescriptions, in an effort to stop “doctor shopping” by patients trying to obtain pills from multiple doctors. They also plan to formulate agreements among their state Medicaid programs, so that low-income patients in one state can be treated for addiction in facilities in another state.

“This epidemic has affected too many of our families and communities, but if we work together, we can recover together and we will come out of this crisis with strength and hope,” Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said in a news release. “Each of the New England governors has taken strong action to combat opiate abuse in their own states, and now we are acting together as one region to take on this challenge.”

The group will also work with Maine, Governor Patrick said. In the future, the states hope to work with New York and Canada, the governors noted.

The states will partner with Brandeis University’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Center of Excellence, which will analyze data from each state’s prescription monitoring programs. The initiative will focus on prescription drugs that often lead to heroin abuse. Brandeis researchers have found that areas with high levels of prescription drug abuse often have high levels of heroin abuse three years later, the article noted.

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    Lidia @ Addiction Blog

    June 26, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    Nice initiative. I hope that the whole of New England will succeed in their plan. Tracking painkiller prescriptions across medical networks is a great idea; digitalized health care may lead to increased episodes of fraud, however. An addict will stop at nothing to acces their drug of choice.

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    Ron DeJohn

    June 19, 2014 at 6:16 PM

    Unfornately, doctor shopping accounts for about 1% of the substance abuse problem, as it’s very easy to get caught.Those who’ve have been arrested quickly learn that street drugs are considerably less costly and you don’t need any authorization.Availing out-of-state facilities to medicade reciprients might benefit a few who happen to be heading to that state and are truly seeking sobriety, but few poverty stricken individuals have the resources to travel.

    After Vermont’s Governor refused an offer of a program (NAPTA.Org) that is statistically reaching 85% of the students who attend our live presentations, and advised this writer that he has decided to take the prosecutorial approach in addressing the 700% increase in heroin use over the past three years, it is quite clear that they simply don’t get it.

    Ron DeJohn

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    Helen Harberts

    June 19, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    Brilliant! Congratulations to these fine Governors! And, increase your drug court capacity exponentially to assist those who are arrested. Well done!

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    June 18, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    I live in Michigan they have their heads in the sand I am a narcotic addiction therapist warning but feel ignored about the threat here

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