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ADA announces professional, public drug abuse initiatives

September 25, 2012

By Craig Palmer, ADA News staff

Washington—The Association announced continuing education opportunities for prescribers of opioid medications and offered “strong support” for prescription drug abuse initiatives in professional and public communiques.

“Medicine abuse has become a real problem in our communities,” Dr. William R. Calnon, ADA president, said in a media release (PDF) announcing the multi-pronged efforts. “As prescribers of narcotic pain medications, dentists are well positioned to educate patients about how to keep these drugs from becoming a source of harm.”

“The ADA has developed or recognized several continuing education modules for dentists to refresh their knowledge about opioid prescribing,” Dr. Calnon and Dr. Kathleen O’Loughlin, ADA executive director, said in a related letter (PDF) to constituent and component dental societies. “The content includes tips about cautious opioid prescribing and counseling parents about proper at-home storage and disposal of unused medications. Dentists can also learn how to recognize signs that a patient may be seeking opioid medications for non-medical purposes and what to do when that occurs.

“We hope you will consider sharing these resources with our tripartite members and, especially, urge them to talk with their patients about how to safely secure and dispose of unused pharmaceuticals.”

Continuing Education Opportunities

The Association partnered with five other health professional organizations to provide free, easily accessible, evidence-based trainings (PDF) on the safe and appropriate prescribing of opioids, along with a peer support network to help prescribers engage in safe opioid prescribing. Dentists can obtain continuing education credits by completing webinars offered through the Prescribers’ Clinical Support System for Opioid Therapies (PCSS-O).

CE no fee courses at ADA’s 2012 annual session in San Francisco will include Management of the Chemically Dependent Patient Oct. 18 and Clues to Your Patients’ Health: The Most Commonly Prescribed Physician-Prescribed Medications Oct. 21. Related courses are scheduled for ADA’s Sept. 19-20, 2013 Dentist Health and Wellness Conference.

“Drug-seeking behavior has changed dramatically in recent years,” said Dr. Calnon. “For that reason, we are also urging dentists to refresh their knowledge about opioid prescribing in the context of modern-day drug seeking behavior.”

Drug Take-Back Day

The Association partnered with the Drug Enforcement Administration to promote DEA’s fifth National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Sept. 29 for safe disposal of unused, unwanted and expired medications at participating collection sites throughout the country.

“Dentists are well positioned to educate parents about how to prevent teen prescription drug abuse,” the Association said in a letter to DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart. “Over two-thirds of Americans visit a dentist at least once a year. Dentists can use those visits to educate parents how to properly secure and dispose of unused pharmaceuticals and recognize signs of abuse in their children. This is especially true of dentists who prescribe medications to manage post-operative pain.”

Dentists must register with the Drug Enforcement Administration for authorization to prescribe controlled substances.

Medicine Abuse Project

The Association offered “strong support” for the Partnership for’s Medicine Abuse Project, a multi-year educational effort to raise awareness about the dangers of medicine abuse.

Prescription medicines are now the most commonly abused drugs among 12- and 13-year-olds and are second to marijuana among young adults, according to 2010 data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Studies indicate these drugs often are obtained from a friend, family member or the home medicine cabinet.

“When used as prescribed, narcotic pain medications are safe and effective at minimizing post-operative pain,” Dr. Calnon said. “But using them for any other purpose is illegal, dangerous and can even be fatal.” The ADA encourages patients or their care givers to visit the Medicine Abuse Project website to learn more about how to prevent medication abuse.

Association Resources

The Association offers additional information for patients at and for professionals at prescription drugs. An ADA policy statement encourages continuing education about the appropriate use of opioid pain medications to promote responsible prescribing practices and limit instances of abuse and diversion.