Stop drug abuse

To tackle the problem of drug abuse, we need to involve everyone from healthcare practitioners to policy makers in the campaign, says Dr L Sreenivasa

Stop drug abuse

Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the world today. Most healthcare providers do not receive adequate education regarding addiction and perhaps, do not fully understand the potential risks of prescribing addictive medications.

For instance, of all the patients that are put on opioids, approximately 80 percent are prescribed low doses by a single clinician. These patients constitute approximately 20 per-cent of prescription drug overdose cases.

Implementing strategies that target those persons at greatest risk will require a strong co-ordination and collaboration plan at the national, state and local levels along with engagement of parents, healthcare professionals, youth influencers and policymakers. The first component of the plan calls for mandatory prescriber education.

Patients as well as parents should be educated about the prevalence and dangers of prescription drug abuse and the safe ways to use prescription drugs. Public-private partnership is essential to promote educational campaigns to achieve this. The second component of the plan calls for prescription drug monitoring programmes to be operational and mechanisms to be in place for data sharing.

The third component, proper medication disposal, is essential because the public lacks a safe, convenient and environment-friendly way to dispose off medications that are no longer needed. The fourth component requires prevention of prescription drug diversion, and law enforcers play an important role in curbing mercenaries from abusing prescription drugs. A thorough implementation of all these four components of the plan can significantly reduce the prescription drug abuse problem and ensure the safe usage of prescription drugs.

It is heartening to known that proper medical management plays a huge role in underplaying drug abuse. Medication management is defined as patient-
centred care to optimise safe, effective and appropriate drug therapy. Care is provided through collaboration between patients and their healthcare teams. The emphasis of medication management is on optimal drug therapy outcomes. It focuses on the role of health practitioners in providing direct patient care and encompasses all aspects of their scope and services. As medication therapy experts, healthcare practitioners focus on the following:
Assess patients’ condition and their medication-related needs and identify actual or potential drug therapy problems.

Formulate and implement care plans to prevent and/or resolve drug therapy problems.
Recommend, adapt or initiate drug therapy, wherever appropriate.
Monitor, evaluate and document patients’ response to therapy.
Effective communication between the clinician and patient is required for drugs that have a narrow therapeutic window and require frequent dose adjustments over a long period of time. There is sufficient evidence that effective communication promotes medication
adherence in the treatment of chronic disorders and can also help in preventing medication-related errors.

(The author is medical director, Nightingales Home Healthcare)

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