Prescription drug abuse has reached epidemic proportions across our state and nation. The increased availability of prescription drugs, coupled with general misperceptions regarding the safety of physician-prescribed medications, has led to exponential growth of drug users and abusers.
In Michigan, the number of drug overdose deaths – a majority of which are from prescription drugs – has tripled since 1999. Moreover, recreational use of prescription drugs is a serious growing problem with teens and young adults. National studies show that teens are more likely to abuse prescription drugs than illegal street drugs, with the exception of marijuana.
Sadly, the rise in heroin use is closely related to the prescription drug epidemic, as abusers often turn to illicit drugs if they cannot obtain a prescription or the price of street drugs is less expensive than a prescription drug.
I have introduced Senate Bills 166 and 167 to ensure physicians are utilizing the Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS) to check a patient’s prescription history before prescribing a highly addictive controlled substance. This will help reduce doctor shopping and help medical professionals identify patients who may be suffering from addiction.
Additionally, I introduced Senate Bills 236 and 237 to ensure that our state provides educational materials to schools in order to help combat the misperception that prescription medication is safe for recreational use.
I have proudly worked to make the lifesaving opioid antagonist, Naloxone, widely available. First responders have saved thousands of lives since my legislation was signed into law. Additionally, friends and family members of those suffering from addiction can purchase Naloxone over the counter or with a prescription.
The Senate recently passed this legislation and I look forward to continuing a broad conversation about reducing prescription drug abuse as these bills are considered by the House of Representatives.