Background and overview
Prescription medicines are essential to all households in the US, but there are concerns about the extent to which they can cause harm due to problems with unsafe storage, disposal methods, and lack of proper education regarding their risks. The CDC has categorized drug abuse as a national epidemic that requires concerted efforts of many stakeholders so that its negative impacts on societies can be reduced. The problem of drug abuse is prevalent in all ages. Thus, its incidence rates are very high. An important indicator of the problem is that “more people die from drug-related causes than car accidents in 16 states” (Baehren et al., 2020, p. 20). One of the governmental bodies that are at the forefront of eliminating the issue of non-medical drug abuse is the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which “focuses on education, monitoring, proper medication disposal, and enforcement” (Office of National Drug Control Policy, 2011, para. 4).
More than seven million citizens use drugs for non-medical purposes on a monthly basis, while about 16 million Americans use a pharmaceutical drug wrongly annually. It is worrying that about 55% of the affected people obtain drugs from family members and friends, rather than from qualified medical professionals. Due to the fact that pharmaceutical drug abuse is strongly associated with family medicine, it is no doubt that many programs focus on providing safe and secure methods that target disposal of drugs. A survey carried out by Carnevale Associates found that although takeback programs are effective in curbing the issue of drug abuse in society, they vary in different states in America (Carnevale Associates, 2012). They are different in terms of objectives, structure, and scale. According to the study findings, it is apparent that takeback programs have four standard components, which are location scope, frequency, drug collection methods, collecting entities, and the properties of drugs collected.
Drug addiction can be explained using three theories (Carnevale Associates, 2012). First, genetic theories propose that addictive inheritance is the reason why people in the same family are negatively impacted by the problem. In fact, in most cases, genetic factors are not correlated with environmental aspects. Thus, if a parent is a drug addict, then there are increased chances of his or her children being addicted too. The problem cannot be prevented because it has genetic roots.
Second, global biologic theories have been put forward to explain why persons are addicted to non-medical drugs. The theories postulate that addictions affect people due to the fact they have prior histories of addiction to unrelated substances. Thus, many individuals have inner motivations to try new drugs, which they assume can cause better outcomes in the long-term and short-term. Finally, exposure theories claim that people are addicted to non-medical drugs because they are present in their surroundings. Regarding the theories, it is assumed that the introduction of a drug into biological systems leads to adjustments in the processes of metabolism that require additional dosages of the product in the future, which are aimed at avoiding withdrawal symptoms (Carnevale Associates, 2012).
When addressing the issue of pharmaceutical drug abuse, it is worth to consider prevention and intervention history. As mentioned earlier in this paper, takeback programs are initiated with the goal of taking away drugs from societies because they are not in use. Another initiative is the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program that is used by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. It is an instrument that can be utilized to solve the issues of prescription drug misuse (Office of National Drug Control Policy, 2011). In the second part of this paper, a detailed review of evidence-based practice is offered.
One of the most successful drug abuse prevention programs is the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan that was started in 2011. Its logic model is shown in Table 1 in the appendices. It is an extension of the government’s National Drug Control Strategy (CLAAD, 2010). The program was initiated after data revealed that drug abuse was impacting a significant number of Americans. The issue at hand was being caused by the manner in which medicines were prescribed. For example, it was found that from 1997 to 2007, the average dose of opioids prescribed for patients increased by a significant 402 percent. Furthermore, it was revealed that there was a remarkable increase in the number of prescriptions made by professionals in detail pharmacies. Specifically, there was an increase of 48%.
The initiative targets all human populations in the US, and it is based on four thematic areas. First, it assumes that education can bring about reductions in the number of persons who are negatively impacted by the use of non-medical drugs. The thematic area concentrates on raising awareness by “educating parents, patients, and healthcare providers” (Baehren et al., 2010, p. 19). Research has shown that education could remarkably create awareness among different stakeholders because they are provided with updated information about various aspects of drug abuse in communities. The approach is adopted for the reason that many parents may not be aware their children could be abusing prescription drugs. Therefore, they do not safely store unused drugs, implying that they are used for the wrong reasons (Frosch, Grande, Tarn & Kravitz, 2010). The observation, coupled with many adverts targeting consumers, leads to an increase in drug abuse. Thus, educational programs could be useful in combating drug abuse. The second element of the program involves tracking and monitoring plans, commonly known as prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs). The strategies focus on preventing the diversion and misuse of drugs, especially at the level they are sold to consumers. A study conducted by “General Accounting Office showed that state PDMPs provide a useful tool to reduce drug diversion, based largely on the opinion of PDMP managers and law enforcement agencies”(Greene & Kesselheim, 2010, p. 2087). The third element is a proper medication disposal that is based on effective public health strategies. A survey conducted in 2009 in the US indicated that about 70% of drugs that were abused were obtained from friends and relatives. Thus, parents and relatives could be told that they need to disposal their prescription medicinal products in the right manner (Frosch et al., 2010). Finally, the program stresses enforcement. The element is used to deter healthcare professionals from giving wrong prescription drugs to unsuspecting patients. Thus, the law is very clear on the matter, stipulating severe consequences to persons who do not use their professional standards (Greene & Kesselheim, 2010). Based on the information presented in this paper regarding the components of the program, I do not think that I would add additional elements.
Regarding program evaluation recommendations, it would be suggested that the success of the initiative could be assessed by determining the number of persons who are admitted to healthcare facilities as a result of drug abuse complications. In addition, the number of professionals who are sued every year can be determined to assess the extent to which the program is successful. A model evaluation approach is highlighted in Table 2 in the appendices. In the future, studies should focus on contributing evidence to PDMPs’ benefits of combating prescription drug abuse. Furthermore, studies should assess the success levels of the program in relation to particular categories of pharmaceutical products.
Baehren, D. F., Marco, C. A., Droz, D. E., Sinha, S., Callan, E. M., & Akpunonu, P. (2010). A statewide prescription monitoring program affects emergency department prescribing behaviors. Annals of emergency medicine, 56(1), 19-23.
Carnevale Associates. (2012). Examining takeback programs as substance abuse policy. Web.
CLAAD. (2010). The National Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Strategy. Web.
Frosch, D. L., Grande, D., Tarn, D. M., & Kravitz, R. L. (2010). A decade of controversy: balancing policy with evidence in the regulation of prescription drug advertising. American Journal of Public Health, 100(1), 24-30.
Greene, J. A., & Kesselheim, A. S. (2010). Pharmaceutical marketing and the new social media. New England Journal of Medicine, 363(22), 2087-2089.
Office of National Drug Control Policy. (2011). Prescription drug monitoring programs. Web.