Earlier this week, President Obama proposed initiatives that would address prescription (Rx) drug abuse in the United States, particularly addiction to Rx opioids. With overdose deaths involving opioid prescription pain relievers deemed an “epidemic,” we applaud the President’s proposal.
The Partnership fully supports the proposed initiatives for overdose prevention efforts and expanded medication-assisted treatment. Still, we can’t ignore the need for even more concerted efforts driving primary prevention, before we get to those critical stages of overdose and treatment.
Of the $133 million budget, only $10 million (approximately 7 percent) is allocated for primary prevention. While these new investments will be an invaluable tool in preventing overdoses, should we not also invest in efforts that work to prevent addiction in the first place?
Based on the Administration’s Prevention Drug Abuse Prevention Plan released in 2011, the Partnership has established its own role in reversing this epidemic with its national action campaign, the Medicine Abuse Project, which aims to prevent half a million teens from abusing medicine by 2017.
And from recent data from the National Study on Drug Use and Health, we can already see how prevention efforts work. The initiation of prescription drug misuse and abuse among teens is down 17 percent versus the previous year.
Let’s work toward a more holistic approach to prescription drug abuse, putting much-needed resources to fund prevention efforts that have proven effective in reducing use, and in doing so, averting more drug overdoses.