Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt is pushing for an “all of the above approach” to fighting the problem of drug trafficking, abuse, and addiction across the state, and the Substance Abuse Workshop is meeting regularly to turn that statement into action.
What does it mean to take an “all of the above approach,” and is it the right choice for Nevada? Currently, Nevada is changing and adding a number of laws, positions, and programs with the goal of helping to limit the numbers of new addiction disorders as well as help those who are currently living with a drug problem to connect with treatment. This is in addition to working to stop those who continue to facilitate drug abuse and overdose through drug trafficking.
It is not only the right choice for Nevada, but it’s the only way to effectively combat the increasingly high numbers of drug overdose deaths and the epidemic of addiction that plagues the state. Here are just a few of the measures that are currently in the works in Nevada.
Prescription Drug Monitoring
A number of bills are being passed in the Nevada Legislature with the goal of helping to cut down on the diversion of prescription painkillers to the black market. For more than two decades, the state has had a prescription drug monitoring database in place that allows doctors and pharmacists to track the prescription and filling of addictive prescription drugs, and for law enforcement to track the prescription practices of physicians and pharmacist practices as well. However, thanks to the Assembly Bill 474 and Senate Bill 59, this process will become stronger due to increased requirements of doctors and pharmacists to use the system. In addition, access to that database will be opened up to law enforcement professionals who can use the information to stop drug trafficking and abuse practices.
As a part of the “all of the above approach,” these bills will facilitate increased communication between providers to stop “doctor shopping,” a practice in which patients may seek large amounts of the same drug from different doctors in order to divert the pills to the black market or maintain an addiction. It would also help to stop doctors and pharmacists who are helping those who would take these actions by prescribing unscrupulously.
A New Law Enforcement Coordinator
A federal grant has been given to Nevada specifically to assist in the process of fighting opiate addiction. Eighty percent of the $5.6 million sum must be spent on treatment programs, and 20 percent has been earmarked for prevention efforts. Part of the prevention costs are potentially being diverted to support the installment of a new law enforcement coordinator who would oversee the use of the prescription drug monitoring database, and make sure that the data is being used in the way it is intended and that all involved are continuing to access it as needed to keep it current and correct.
This is just one of the many systems that are being proposed that will be paid for by the grant with the intention of reaching people who are at risk of developing an addiction disorder.
Funds from the grant will also be spent on helping Nevadans to recognize and better understand the nature of the threat of substances across the state. Not only is there a problem with abuse of prescription painkillers, but illicit substances like heroin and crystal meth are also a considerable problem. Law enforcement agencies are working to stop the influx of these substances into the state from Mexico and South America, but there is a great need for families and communities in Nevada to recognize the risk associated with use of these drugs and “designer drugs” that are available on the street. With increased awareness, the goal is that people will make more informed choices and opt to:
- Avoid experimentation with illicit substances, even if they are not yet banned or illegal in Nevada.
- Avoid mixing alcohol and other substances.
- Avoid getting behind the wheel while under the influence of any substance.
- Take advantage of holistic treatment options and non-addictive pain medication whenever possible.
- Take action if a loved one is abusing addictive substances.
Do you think Nevada is doing enough to stem the tide of addiction and deaths due to overdose? What else do you think should be done, and what systems should be put into place to help people avoid addiction?