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Ohio Gov. proposes new ‘safety checkpoints’ for prescription opioid use

Speculations about restrictions on the availability of prescription drugs for chronic pain patients in Ohio were put to rest on May 2, 2018, when Governor John Kasich and leaders of the state health care profession licensing boards announced a series of “safety checkpoints” that would ensure regular monitoring of prescription drug use among such patients. Ohioans suffering from chronic pain were assured that under the new set of rules only appropriate, non-dangerous doses would be prescribed.

The initiative aimed to reduce the increasing number of drug overdose deaths and related fatalities, whether brought on by lack of drug addiction rehab facilities or the severity of drug withdrawal symptoms. Patients of pain had lately been dreading the possibility of not being able to use prescription painkillers due to a possible change in related policies or laws.

“Don’t worry, you’ll get what you need and get it in a more positive, more successful way,” said Kasich talking about the rules, which are expected to be adopted by the State Medical Board, Ohio Board of Nursing and Ohio State Dental Board in a few months.

“Common-sense” thresholds can prevent addiction in chronic pain patients

Kasich also elaborated on the fact that the new rules did not set limits on the permissibility of prescription drug use. Instead, these would enable certified behavioral health practitioners to re-evaluate the patients’ needs versus the current use of opioids from time to time so that the course of treatment could be modified as and when the signs of an abuse/addiction developed or became evident.

So, whenever a patient is prescribed doses crossing 50, 80 and 120 morphine equivalent doses per day, the doctor would conduct an analysis to look for signs of opioid misuse, determine any underlying conditions causing pain and consult pain-care specialists. Further, patients prescribed 80 morphine equivalent doses per day would be considered for prescribing naloxone to help reverse an overdose, but after a pain management agreement is obtained.

The announcement also mentioned that the new rules were not applicable to hospice patients or those with terminal conditions. Also, patients seeking treatment in inpatient settings or patients already being treated for chronic pain would be excluded from the evaluation unless the prescribed doses were increased to an extent that needed re-evaluation and a double-check by pain-care specialists.

Similar initiatives can help control opioid crisis

Several initiatives taken during the last few months to reduce prescription opioid-related deaths have been yielding the desired results. Earlier this year, an initiative prohibited doctors, dentists and other medical practitioners from prescribing opioids for more than 70 days — five days for minors — for temporary treatment of pain. Refills for prescription opioids could only be obtained if physicians prescribed, in writing, an extension of the pain-relief medications. As reports confirmed, a 30 percent reduction has already been seen in the amount of prescription opioids dispensed between 2011 and 2017. According to the latest federal figures, Ohio had recorded 5,231 drug deaths between October 2016 and September 2017.

Prescription drug addiction can be treated

Such initiatives indicate that in addition to the introduction of new laws and regulations, amendments to the existing rules also have the potential to contribute to the making of a drug-free nation. With more similar laws, initiatives and awareness programs being introduced in the near future, the possibility of being able to control the existing state of drug crisis in the United States seems strong.

If you or your loved one is looking for a drug abuse rehab center to seek recovery from an addiction to drugs or any other substance, the 24/7 Recovery Helpline can help. Call our experts on our 24-hour drug helpline number 855-441-4405 to know about the best options for drug rehab help. You can also chat online with our treatment advisors for information about evidence-based treatment programs available at a treatment center near you.

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