Maine Doctors Requesting Drug Tests before Writing Prescriptions

Doctors in the state of Maine have begun to ask patients to submit to random drug tests in exchange for prescriptions for controlled drugs. The tests help doctors determine if patients are taking their prescription drugs or selling them on the black market. Drug tests also allow doctors to determine if patients are taking other drugs. Patients who refuse drug tests could be refused prescriptions. The Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine recommends that physicians enter into contract agreements that include random drug tests with patients who receive multiple new prescriptions or renewals for controlled drugs. According to Gordon Smith, vice president of the Maine Medical Association, a prescription drug contract between doctor and patient and random drug testing for patients will encourage more conversations about the potential for addiction. Maine - Surprisingly Vulnerable to Opiate Addiction Random drug testing is the latest weapon being used to fight Maine's high rate of prescription drug abuse. The per-capita rate of addiction to opiate drugs in Maine is the highest in…

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OxyContin Without Safety Features could Return to Pharmacies

A national organization that fights prescription drug abuse is sounding the alarm about the possibility of pain pills without safety features being released to pharmacies across the nation. The nonprofit Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence (CLAAD) is urging the FDA to prevent the return of crushable versions of OxyContin and Opana. Under government pressure, the makers of these powerful opioid drugs reformulated their products to prevent abuse. The new versions of the drugs are resistant to crushing, making it impossible to smoke, snort or inject the drugs in order to circumvent their time-release formula. Studies have shown that prescription drug abusers and dealers are less interested in the new versions of the drugs because of their tamper-resistant features. The Generics Might Not Be Safeguarded Despite evidence that reformulation of painkillers has reduced abuse, several drug companies have requested FDA approval for generic versions of these drugs. The generic pills, which would have no abuse-deterrent features, could be released to pharmacies early in 2013. CLAAD recently sent a…

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Signs that Your Spouse or Partner is Abusing Prescription Drugs

If your spouse or partner has begun to seem like a stranger and you know that they've been taking prescription drugs, they may be struggling with drug dependency. Many people who don't fit the stereotype of a typical drug addict—responsible people with good jobs and loving family and friends—are becoming dependent on painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin or anti-anxiety medications like Xanax and Valium. In most cases, they begin taking prescription drugs for legitimate medical reasons including back injuries, car accidents, arthritis, depression or trauma. They unsuspectingly then develop a physical dependence.   A Medical System that Has Inevitable Addiction Consequences With prescription drug abuse at epidemic levels across the nation, many educated people with successful lives are becoming addicted to opiate drugs prescribed for pain and benzodiazepines prescribed for anxiety. These medications are often prescribed by physicians who don't provide their patients with adequate warnings about the danger of addiction. Other physicians write willingly prescriptions at the request of self-medicating patients who use prescription drugs to escape from…

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Drug Testing Teens at Home

To help combat teenage drug abuse, many parents are turning to do-it-yourself drug tests. Home drug testing kits are now widely available on the Internet and in many pharmacies. These tests typically use urine, hair or saliva to test for a panel of drugs that may include marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines and opioids. There is no question about the importance of stopping teenage drug abuse. Because the body and brain are undergoing critical development during adolescence, drug use can be especially damaging to a teen's health and emotional well-being. Studies have shown that the earlier a teenager begins using drugs, the greater the risk of developing drug dependence or addiction. However, there is limited evidence that home drug tests are an effective way to deal with teen drug abuse. According to a 2008 article in U.S. New & World Report, there are a variety of ways to cheat drug tests. An online search reveals a wide range of tips and products for passing urine drug tests, including tampering with or…

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Drug Ring Salvages OxyContin and Vicodin Pills from Medical Waste Company

The demand for narcotic prescription drugs is so high that drug dealers will go to almost any length to get their hands on drugs to sell. A San Diego drug ring took this to an extreme by intercepting thousands of pills that were slated to be destroyed and selling them on the black market.   Agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration arrested John Bonavita and two employees of Enserv West LLC, a medical waste disposal firm. The employees diverted pills that were slated to be destroyed to Bonavita, who sold them to other dealers. As part of a plea agreement, Bonavita admitted to purchasing and reselling 13,000 hydrocodone tablets (a pain medication that's sold under the brand name Vicodin), 900 oxycodone tablets (another painkiller sold under the name OxyContin), 111 methadone tablets and 350 morphine tablets.   The drug ring operated from 2009 to 2010. DEA investigators learned about the group when an informant who had purchased thousands of prescription pills from Bonavita began working with authorities in…

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Early Marijuana Use Linked to Prescription Drug Abuse

For decades, drug authorities have described marijuana as a gateway drug that can lead to abuse of more serious drugs. Although the theory has often been ridiculed, a new study conducted by researchers at Yale School of Medicine is lending credence to marijuana's role in prescription drug abuse. The study, which has been published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that teenagers who drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes or marijuana are two to three times more likely to abuse prescription drugs as young adults, with the most-abused drugs being opioid painkillers like OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet. According to Dr. Lynn Fiellin, Yale associate professor and lead author of the study, previous studies have focused on the link between marijuana and illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin. This is one of the first studies to examine the connection between marijuana and prescription drugs. Dr. Fiellin and her team of researchers used data collected from young adults for the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from the years…

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Opana Overtaking OxyContin as Most Abused Painkiller

Fort Wayne, Indiana, a medium-sized city of 200,000, has experienced more than a dozen pharmacy robberies since the beginning of 2012. In almost every case, the robbers were after a powerful prescription painkiller named Opana. Less well-known than OxyContin, Opana is the brand name for oxymorphone. Like OxyContin, Opana is an opiate medication that carries a high risk of abuse, dependency and overdose. Unlike OxyContin, Opana is still available in an extended-release formula that appeals to abusers who are seeking a more intense high. According to drug enforcement experts, the rising popularity of Opana can be attributed to a change made to OxyContin that makes pills harder to crush for snorting or dissolve for injecting. Individuals who are addicted to prescription drugs have a tendency to adapt according the drug availability and many are now turning to Opana to feed their addiction. States that are known for prescription drug abuse, including Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York as well as Indiana, are seeing a growth in Opana abuse. Last…

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Texas Launches Online Tool to Fight Drug Abuse

The State of Texas has added a new weapon to its arsenal in the war against prescription drug abuse and doctor shopping. The Texas Department of Public Safety has responded to the growing prescription drug problem by launching an online tool to identify drug abusers and dealers by tracking prescription painkillers like OxyContin and other controlled drugs. The new tool is an online database called Prescription Access in Texas. Prior to the introduction of the new database, pharmacists sent prescription data to a paper-based system. Getting information out of the old system could take several days or longer. Now more than 100,000 health care professionals and law enforcement officials will be able to find out immediately which medications a Texas patient has received in the past year. In addition to revealing which patients are abusing or dealing drugs, the Prescription Access system can be used to identify doctors who are overprescribing narcotic drugs. The Center for Disease Controls and Prevention has reported that prescription drug overdoses from opioid painkillers…

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Who Should Pay for Prescription Drug Disposal?

Government drug experts have found that many teenagers and adults who abuse prescription drugs obtain them from people they know with prescriptions or steal them from the medicine cabinets of family and friends. Starting in 2010, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has held a series of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days to encourage Americans to safely dispose of unused and unwanted prescription medications. More than 5600 take-back sites have been established, covering all 50 states. The Take-Back program has removed a total of 775 tons of medication from circulation, avoiding the chances of diversion and abuse.   The National Prescription Drug Take-Back program has been so effective that some local jurisdictions have established their own drug drop-off programs. In Alameda County in Northern California, 28 publicly-funded drop locations are available year round for residents to dispose of prescription drugs. Besides keeping prescription drugs out of the hands of people who may abuse them, drug disposal programs like the one in Alameda County protect the environment by keeping drugs out…

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