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Massachusetts comes up with law to fight opioid addiction
A look at the spike in opioid prescriptions in the United States since the mid-1990s causes not only fear among the Americans, but also a feeling of concern among health policy advocates and lawmakers.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Tom Frieden, “The increasing number of deaths from opioid overdose is alarming. The opioid epidemic is devastating American families and communities. To curb these trends and save lives, we must help prevent addiction and provide support and treatment to those who suffer from opioid use disorders.”
If not worse, the condition is equally bad in Massachusetts. According to a 2015 report released by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the state witnessed 1,256 opioid overdose deaths in 2014 alone.
Law to check opioid abuse
Looking at the surge in the number of opioid abuse deaths, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker recently signed Bill H.3944 into law to curb opioid addiction. The bill was passed unanimously in February 2016 after endless hours of debate and 80 amendment proposals.
After signing the bill in March 2016, Governor Baker said, “Today, the Commonwealth stands in solidarity to fight the opioid and heroin epidemic that continues to plague our state and burden countless families and individuals. I am proud to sign this legislation marking a remarkable statewide effort to strengthen prescribing laws and increase education for students and doctors.”
House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) told masslive.com, “We are in the midst of a public health crisis that is draining vitality from our hometowns, extinguishing lives and stealing souls,” adding, “The House has crafted legislation and budgets that complement each other and set a foundation for continual improvement.”
The law requires doctors to give opioids for not more than a week to adults who get first-time prescription for chronic pain. Similarly, opioid prescription to minors would not exceed seven days.
Starting July, a substance abuse evaluation by a mental health professional will be necessary in cases of opioid overdose within 24 hours before the patient is freed of the necessary treatment. Though the assessment by the mental health professional will include guidelines for treatment in the near future, it is up to the patient’s consent if he wishes to avail of the same.
Stressing on the significance of the law, Liz Malia, Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, said, “The evaluation procedure creates a safety net and a new standard in acute care settings designed to ensure the proper assessment and discharge of patients who seek voluntary treatment.”
While the lack of beds forces people to look for alternative treatment facilities in other states, the state will now have to create a central database to enable the public to find real-time information on availability of beds and services.
The law makes it necessary for educational institutions to impart the necessary information to their students and athletes about drug addiction. Starting October, doctors will need to check a Prescription Monitoring Program before prescribing high-risk opioids.
The law allows patients to limit their access to opioid medications. It ensures civil liability for anyone administering the anti-overdose drug Naloxone. It ends the practice of putting civilly committed women with substance abuse problems in jail rather than in a state hospital.
Looking for recovery
No one sets out to be an addict. And when they give up addiction, they are not sure themselves if it was forever. As the country grapples with opioid addiction and faces the reality of more and more people losing their battle against prescription abuse, it becomes imperative for the country to have laws in place that can prevent further abuse.
If you or your loved one is battling addiction, call the Boston Drug Treatment and Rehab Center to learn about the best treatment available in your area. You may call our 24/7 helpline at 857-254-1818 or chat online with our representative for further information.