Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Policies that reduce drug availability are part of a comprehensive approach to drug prevention

Drug overdose deaths, particularly those caused by prescription painkillers, declined in Florida after state policy changes were made, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Their success provides a perfect example of how drug prevention is not only about school-based programs and parenting, it’s also about adopting policies that reduce the availability of drugs and enforcing those policies. 

From a New York Times article about the decline in deaths:

"Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the C.D.C., said the pattern provided a hopeful example of the effect that policy could have on one of this country’s most entrenched public health problems, one that takes the lives of more than 20,000 Americans a year."

“This tells us that policies and enforcement work,” Dr. Frieden said."

From the CDC's report on the decline in drug-related deaths:

“. . . policy changes in Florida were followed by declines in the prescribing of drugs, especially those favored by Florida prescribing dispensers and pain clinics, as well as by declines in overdose deaths involving those drugs. Florida has reported that approximately 250 pain clinics were closed by 2013, and the number of high-volume oxycodone dispensing prescribers declined from 98 in 2010 to 13 in 2012 and zero in 2013. Law enforcement agencies in Florida also reported that rates of drug diversion (i.e., channeling of prescription drugs to illicit markets) declined during 2010–2012.

Like the most effective substance use prevention strategies, Florida took a multi-pronged approach to preventing drug-related deaths.  The approach relied heavily on policies that reduce access to prescription painkillers and the enforcement of those policies.  

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