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34 Navy | Summer 2017 ISTOCK PHOTO T he National Institute on Drug Abuse identifies three classes of prescription drugs that are most oen abused. You may know them best as "uppers and downers," but the drugs are classified as opiates, depressants, and stimulants. Health officials now refer to prescription drug addiction as an epidemic. More Americans die from prescription opioid over- dose than in drunken-driving car crashes, according to data from the Centers or Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to the risks that all of these drugs pose when used on their own, greater risks result when they are combined with other drugs or with alcohol. Self-medicators oen "try out" various combinations of "uppers" and "downers" to enhance or manage their effects, but this can cause severe physical and mental problems, and even death. While 49 states have a prescription drug database in one form or another, only about 10 states require doctors and pharmacists to check it before writing new prescriptions, including Kentucky and New York. Some studies show that the number of narcotic prescriptions written in those states went down aer the mandate, and enrollment in addiction treatment went up, though it is unclear if some drug abusers may have turned to street drugs instead. Recently, New Jersey became the 10th state to establish a "meaningful mandate" requiring physicians to check a database before prescribing certain drugs, according to the Brandeis Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Center of Excellence. California is not one of the 10. Pharmacists are required to report all drugs they dispense in the state's prescription drug data- base, known as the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System, or CURES. But neither pharmacists nor doctors are required to check the database before dispensing or writing new prescriptions. News from Kentucky and New Jersey, along with campaigns in other states, have rekindled interest in California's efforts to force physicians to use the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Eval- How Information Technology Fights the ...the number of patients... who "shop around" for doctors to obtain prescriptions declined by 52%, opioid prescriptions... dropped by 54% and overdose-related deaths declined. War on Drug Abuse By LCDR David M. Bradley

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