New State Laws Require Doctors, Stores Track Opiate Painkiller Sales

Certain state and local governments in the United States and Canada are about to crack down on the illegal sales of prescription narcotics. Proposals that could force pharmacies and physicians to keep better track of who buys these drugs, as well as how much and how often, are being considered in 11 state governments and provinces in Canada. Thirty-three state legislatures have already passed these laws.

The new laws would require extra paper work for doctors and druggists, because between nine to 11 million such prescriptions are written a year just in the USA.

Name-brand drugs such as OxyContin and Vicodin are addictive because, like heroin and morphine, they are derived from opium. In the past, doctors would typically tell patients to take over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin for routine pain, but now patients are increasingly asking for opiate painkillers. Many of them are addicted and "doctor shop" to get their supplies, which means they go to emergency rooms or to a new doctor every time to ask for a certain drug. The new laws are designed to stop such illegal activity.

Similar laws have been effective in stopping people from manufacturing methamphetamine from cold medications. Laws requiring those who buy certain cold medications to register with pharmacists have made it more difficult for "meth labs" to supply addicts.

The federal agencies that keep track of the use of illegal drugs in the United States have been reporting an increase in the number of people admitted to Emergency Rooms for overdoses to opiate painkillers, and increases in the number of people addicted to them entering rehabilitation centers. In many such reports, the increase has been over 350% in the past decade, and much of it occurs among people under the age of 25 years old. Many new addicts believed that prescription drugs are safer than street drugs and non-addictive.

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The Pain of Addiction

Vicodin addiction often starts innocently enough. Most people start taking Vicodin or other pain medications after surgery or an injury. But then they can’t stop. They need more to get the same pain relief. They start doctor shopping to get more pills. And the cycle continues until it takes over their lives.