As the PFS grant coordinator for the Community Coalition for Family Wellness of South Glens Falls (CCFW), I can attest to the need for more services in our area to support those affected by the disease of addiction. However, our grant looks to establish the kind of programs that will be repeated nationwide to help stop the spread of the opioid epidemic through primary prevention, which focuses on stopping use before it starts. While there will always be a need for pain treatment, this need to treat pain was unfortunately exploited.
The Office of Diversion Control’s monitoring of prescribing of oxycodone from 1980 to 2006 showed prescribing rates stable under 1,000 milligrams per capita in New York until OxyContin was patented in 2004. This is when it elevated over 16,000 milligrams per capita. In Saratoga County, we saw over 2,000 medication disposal bags and 1,400 pounds of medications disposed last year. The National Vital Statics System studied opioid overdose and milligram per capita, opioid sales from 1997 to 2007, and found increased overdose death rates rose consistently with every milligram of opioids per capita sold.
There are multiple factors for the roughly 6 percent of those prescribed who become addicted from family history, childhood trauma/mental health, age of onset, initial exposure, etc. However, over-prescribing has fueled addiction and is directly correlated to profit. Pharmaceutical manufacturers have already paid billions of dollars for the deceptive marketing which misrepresented the data on addiction risk. Still, no one is calling for completely stopping prescribing, but they are calling for prescribing reductions, diversion control and alternative pain treatments. The CCFW offers free medication lock boxes, medication disposal bags, drug take back days, Narcan training, continuum of care in treatment, mental health support, PSAs, increasing protective factors, community engagement, and drugged driving enforcement.
James Norton, Saratoga Springs