State Legislatures Enforcing New Opioid Laws to Combat Addiction

Opioid Laws 1200

When taken as directed prescription opioids, such as Oxycodone (OxyContin), Hydrocodone (Vicodin), and Methadone can help moderate pain management, however, these pills can often be misused and lead to addiction, job loss, and even death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are nearly 46 deaths a day caused by prescription opioid abuse. In order to take action against the nationwide epidemic, state legislators are putting laws in place to reduce abuse and misuse.

State Legislation

Among the numerous strategies used to battle the ever-growing opioid epidemic, several states are using legislation to limit the prescriptions being distributed. In early 2016, Massachusetts became the first state to pass a law in the nation placing a seven-day limit on first time opioid prescriptions. As of April 2018, there are already 28 states that have enacted legislation for opioid prescription limits. The laws and limits vary depending on each state, with the majority of them setting limits on first-time opioid prescriptions with a specific number of days’ supply, and some exemptions for cancer and palliative care treatments.

Alaska, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Nebraska have laws that specifically set limits for minors and often require education for both the minor and the parent or guardian of opioid risks. In other states, such as New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin they allow specific entities to place limits on prescriptions rather than states, such as the board of medicine, nursing, or dentistry, or the department of health/state health official.

Other Tactics and Strategies

In addition to state legislation and laws, state leaders are using various approaches to prevent or intervene early prescription drug abuse. Such approaches include:

  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) – effectively improves opioid prescribing and the overall protection of patients.
  • Pain clinic regulation – prevents the prescription of pharmaceuticals by pain clinics for the sole purpose of financial gain, rather than medical necessity.
  • Expanded access to Naloxone – sets laws to provide immunity to carry, administer, and/or dispense the Naloxone (the medication used to reverse an opioid overdose) and expands the flexibility on who is allowed to carry and use.
  • Provider education and training – expands knowledge on identifying substance use disorders, pain management, and prescribing controlled substances.

What Does This Mean For Companies?

As states continue to find ways to combat drug abuse with tighter opioid prescription laws, employers may see people finding other ways to get their fix. Companies can reinforce workplace safety and ensure a drug-free working environment with drug testing services. An effective drug testing policy is proven to reduce drug abuse at your facility or workplace and reduces turnover rates, enhances worker productivity, mitigates work-related injuries, and improves overall safety. With proper resources and programs employers can work towards making these issues a thing of the past.

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