Prescription drug abuse: Problem, policies, and implications

Published:December 14, 2012DOI:


      This article provides an overview on prescription drug abuse and highlights a number of related legislative bills introduced during the 112th Congress in response to this growing epidemic. Prescription drug abuse has emerged as the nation’s fastest growing drug problem. Although prescription drugs have been used effectively and appropriately for decades, deaths from prescription pain medicine in particular have reached epidemic proportions. Bills related to prescription drug abuse introduced during the 112th Congress focus on strengthening provider and consumer education, tracking and monitoring prescription drug abuse, improving data collection on drug overdose fatalities, combating fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid programs, reclassifying drugs to make them more difficult to prescribe and obtain, and enforcing stricter penalties for individuals who operate scam pain clinics and sell pain pills illegitimately. This article underscores the importance of a multifaceted approach to combating prescription drug abuse and concludes with implications for nursing.


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