Prescription drug abuse in America is a hot button topic that affects every state. Vermont has one of the biggest problems which is why the Prescription Drug Abuse Workgroup was formed, consisting of 75 members from varied professions who are attempting to help with the problem. The workgroup issued a final report in December that lays out a statewide approach to actively address the problem.
Since 2008, the workgroup has met quarterly, convened jointly by the Vermont Departments of Health and Public Safety. When together they discussed possible solutions to the problem in four focus areas:
- education and community prevention/treatment
- law enforcement
Vermont ranks 26th worst of all states in the non-medical use of pain killers, and has the second highest per capita rate of all states for admissions to treatment for opiates for 20- to 29-year olds.
“Prescription drug abuse is a major public health concern and we knew – for the Health Department and Public Safety to adequately address the problem – an ‘all-hands-on deck’ approach was required,” said Health Commissioner Harry Chen, MD. “The safe dispensing of these controlled medications, which serve a useful purpose, is a major priority for us and our partners statewide.”
The report suggested that Vermont needs:
- Improved prescriber education for medical students
- public education on proper disposal of drugs
- better informed patients and patient verification
- enhanced law enforcement efforts and training
- more widespread use of the Vermont Prescription Monitoring System
The Health Department, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Vermont Medical Society, Office of Professional Regulation, Northern New England Poison Center, Department of Health Access, Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration (BISHCA), Vermont Boards of Pharmacy and Medical Practice, and the Vermont State Police contributed recommendations to the final report.