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At this point it would seem that there is no good excuse for failing to harness the resources available for combating prescription opioid abuse. The situation is far beyond dire, yet many doctors, physician assistants and pharmacists seem to be resistant to prescribing mandates, opioid addiction training and prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP). New research suggests that PDMPs are being underused, even in the states hardest hit by the American opioid epidemic.

Researchers from Husson University in Maine surveyed 275 pharmacists in 2014, a year considered by many experts as being the apex of the epidemic, Healthday reports. Of the survey pool, only 56 percent of pharmacists utilized the state’s monitoring program despite the fact that the system was ten years old at the time. The findings will be published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

“We have resources to help tackle the opioid epidemic, but we’re underusing them,” said researcher Stephanie Nichols of the Husson University School of Pharmacy, in Bangor, Maine. Nichols points out that: “Often, the pharmacist is the ‘last line of defense,’ for patient safety.” 

There were some other findings of interest, such as the fact that 22 percent of Maine residents received a prescription for opioids in 2014, according to the article. Just for perspective, that is enough opioids to give every resident a 16-day supply. What’s more, that figure was lower than how opioids were prescribed in 2010, but the number of prescriptions written for buprenorphine (Suboxone) rose dramatically.

“I think that’s a positive trend, because we interpret that as an increase in treatment of people with an opioid use disorder,” said Nichols. 

It is fair to say that the stakes are extremely high, the difference between life and death. Choosing to not use the resources available, amidst the greatest scourge of drug abuse in American history, is hard to understand.

If you or a loved one is struggling with prescription opioid and/or heroin abuse, please contact Hope by the Sea. We can help you break the cycle of addiction and give you the tools to live a life in recovery.