Role of the Medical Community

NIDA Unveils New Drug Use Screening Tools for Physicians

Doctors and pharmacists are in an extraordinary position to intervene if they suspect prescription drug abuse.  Medical professionals not only care for their patients, but can help identify prescription drug abuse when it exists, assist their patients in recognizing abuse problems, and supporting patients in seeking appropriate treatment. Research shows that by discussing problems, medical practitioners can have a powerful effect on a patient’s willingness to address addiction.

Health care providers, you are in a unique position to educate patients about how to keep their prescription medications from being used inappropriately. Click here for a flyer (in pdf format) that you can easily print and distribute to your patients.

For Physicians - This section guides and links physicians to relevant information and resources within this Web site and from external sources.

About the Rx Problem:
How much do you know about the prescription drug abuse problem?
What is the prescription drug abuse problem?
Why is the prescription drug abuse problem a physician's problem?

Protecting Your Patients and Practice:
How can physicians prevent the problem?
How can physicians identify the problem?
How can physicians address the problem?

Additional Resources

Read this article to learn about some of the roles that physicians and pharmacists can play in combating prescription drug abuse.

Read below to learn about the roles of the substance abuse treatment system and the prescription drug monitoring program.


Role of the Substance Abuse Treatment Community

State treatment systems are the state agencies that coordinate efforts to help individuals and communities with problems related to the abuse of drugs and alcohol. These agencies are the likely place for physicians, pharmacists or PDMPs to refer people for treatment.

Successful treatment may need to incorporate several components including detoxification, various types of counseling, and pharmacological therapies.  Because no single type of treatment is appropriate for all individuals, treatment must take into account the type of drug used and the needs of the individual. It is important to remember that multiple courses of treatment are often needed for a patient to fully recover.

Treatment helps people reclaim their lives and become contributing members of society. Providing drug abuse treatment improves life for everyone by making our communities safer and reducing society’s financial burden of caring for people with an addiction.

Learn more about substance abuse addiction and treatment

Contact the substance abuse treatment system in your community

Access SAMHSA’s Treatment Locator

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Role of the PDMPs

What Are Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs)?

PDMPs are in place to assist law enforcement in the collection and analysis of data related to controlled substances through a centralized database administered by an authorized state agency. Data provided by the PDMPs assists law enforcement in identifying and investigating activities related to the illegal prescribing, dispensing and procuring of controlled substances.

States that have implemented PDMPs are able to collect and analyze prescription data much more efficiently than states without such programs, where the collection of this information requires the manual review of pharmacy files, a time-consuming and invasive process. Some PDMPs allow physicians to access data and review patients’ prescription drug histories.

Providing the medical community access to this data allows physicians to work together to eliminate doctor shopping. Some state programs proactively notify physicians when their patients are seeing multiple prescribers for the same class of drugs. This assists health care professionals to intervene on the patient’s behalf and assist them in obtaining appropriate treatment if it is necessary.

While all PDMP programs are intended to help prevent prescription drug diversion, some programs also include educational objectives to provide physicians, pharmacists and the public with information regarding the nature and extent of the prescription drug problem in their community and the treatment options available for those who may need it.

Learn more about the benefits of PDMPs

Contact your state’s PDMP

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Collaboration is Crucial

Because the prescription drug abuse epidemic is growing so quickly, it is important for many different systems to come together now. How can you work with the other stakeholders in your state? Use the CONNECT state systems map to learn more about the PDMP and treatment system in your state. Take the first step to CONNECT!

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