Addiction is preventable. In order to reduce the number of citizens who become addicted to substance in the first place, state prevention efforts should focus in two key areas.
First, states must establish policies that will stop the overprescribing of opioids which initially fueled our modern epidemic. Second, states should ensure that school-aged children, plus their parents, receive trustworthy education about addiction and participate in research-backed programs proven to prevent risky substance use.
Here are six concrete ways that states can support effective prevention techniques:
1. As a condition of licensure, require all opioid prescribers to complete high-quality continuing medical education courses in pain management and safe opioid prescribing, incorporating opioid prescribing guidelines.
2. Require providers to check the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) before prescribing Schedule II, III and IV controlled substances. The state must also ensure that the PDMP is integrated with other systems and interoperable with other states.
3. Encourage local leaders and those in positions of power to raise awareness about the risks associated with opioid use and educate about effective treatment options.
4. Identify opportunities to require targeted education, such as middle and high-school health classes and annual safety trainings for student athletes and their parents.
5. Work with community coalitions to provide evidence-based prevention programming to youth and other high-risk groups (e.g., LifeSkills, Strengthening Families Program, PROPSER).
6. Help publicize law enforcement-sponsored and pharmacy take-back programs, in addition to any other opportunities for safe drug disposal.