American College of Addiction Medicine Praises Obama Administration Response to Opioid Prescription Drug Epidemic, Urges More Action

Epidemic and alarming rate of drug-related fatalities demonstrates need for coordinated response.
  • Boston, MA-NH (1888PressRelease) April 23, 2011 - The American College of Addiction Medicine (ACAM), the educational arm of Addiction Medicine Associates, today issued a statement in support of the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy's (ONDCP) prescription drug abuse action proposal. ACAM praised President Barack Obama's team for drawing attention to the rapidly escalating rates of Opioid prescription drug misuse, abuse and accidental overdose fatalities.

    "Addiction medicine and healthcare practitioners across the country recognize the importance of a White House program that seeks to reduce America's prescription drug epidemic which has developed over the past decade," said Dr. Punyamurtula S. Kishore, M.D., M.P.H., president of the American College of Addiction Medicine. "President Obama must be praised for acknowledging that the fastest growing and most dangerous area of drug abuse and addiction involves Opioids prescribed for medical use but subsequently used for non-medical purposes."

    Noting the Oxycodone epidemic in Massachusetts, as defined by the Massachusetts legislature in 2009, ACAM lauded the ONDCP for declaring the non-medical use of prescription Opioid medication a national epidemic. Widely available statistics, including Centers of Disease Control data showing a 175 percent increase in accidental fatalities stemming from prescription drug misuse and the 400 percent increase in use of prescription Opioids in the United States, underscore the need for a coordinated federal response to the crisis.

    "The federal government understands that increased awareness and community-based education are essential in order to combat this epidemic, to save lives and to reduce the incredible impact of Opioid addiction on local cities and towns," said Dr. Nicholas Rencricca, dean of the American College of Addiction Medicine. "The statistics could not be more clear. America is suffering from an addiction epidemic and OxyContin is one of the most prevalent substances that leads to addiction and creates incredibly high costs for the public in terms of lives that are lost or destroyed."

    In particular, ACAM praised the ONDCP's call for increased education about the substance abuse. The failure of practitioners to recognize when patients are abusing prescription medication is a leading contributor to the epidemic. Increased training for physicians and practitioners who are responsible for Opioid prescriptions as a precondition of licensure and registration is an essential element of any successful program, Dr. Rencricca commented.

    In addition to increased education for the medical community, ACAM called for the ONDCP to embrace treatment of all addictions as a chronic disease similar to the manner in which providers treat high blood pressure or diabetes through a lifelong commitment to monitoring, stabilizing and caring for patients. Additionally, ACAM is calling on the ONDCP to support educational programs in local cities and towns in order to increase awareness about the potential for addiction to prescription Opioids among parents, children and community leaders. ACAM notes that any opportunity to increase attention about the escalating rate of prescription drug misuse and abuse is an essential element of an overall harm reduction strategy.

    ACAM noted that the United States can no longer ignore the extreme costs associated with the prescription drug abuse epidemic. In Massachusetts alone, the state reported nearly 92,000 in-patient admissions for substance abuse treatment, with nearly 50% related to opiate abuse. In Massachusetts alone, 3,265 people died of opiate overdoses between 2002 and 2007, compared with just 78 state residents who lost their lives while serving their country in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    In addition to voicing its support for the Obama administration, ACAM is calling upon the ONDCP to support development and implementation of a therapeutic community approach to all addiction, including those associated with Opioid prescription drug misuse and abuse. This model, which consists of treatment providers and those in recovery, allows both patient and care-giver to interact in structured and unstructured ways in order to influence attitudes, perceptions and behaviors that lie at the heart of drug use and abuse. ACAM actively promotes the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) as a cost-effective, comprehensive health model that provides recovering patients with accessible, comprehensive, and integrated care.

    About the American College of Addiction Medicine

    Founded in July 2010 and based in Brookline, MA, the American College of Addiction Medicine is the educational arm of based of Addiction Medicine Associates. ACAM recruits, teaches and trains practitioners about efficient, thorough models of care to addiction that include detoxification, preventive and wellness services, primary care, counseling, and sobriety maintenance options. ACAM works with all healthcare practitioners and hospitals to provide continuing education through workshops and core curriculum on all aspects of addiction care. ACAM, which is seeking non-profit status, is also developing a residency in training program in addiction medicine.

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