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Opioid Abuse - An Alarming Epidemic has Invaded Our State
Posted on: 11/1/2013
Eldon A. Trame, MD
ISMS President
Eldon A. Trame, MD  

As I’ve traveled the state as ISMS President, I’ve learned a lot about how much Illinois physicians have in common. I’ve heard your feedback on issues like the Affordable Care Act (more often than not referenced as Obamacare), medical liability reform and numerous variations on the topic of the changing realities of practicing medicine.

One alarming topic that particularly stands out to me is prescription drug misuse and abuse. Last year my predecessor William N. Werner, MD, heard concerns about opioid addictions and overdoses from physicians during his tour and conversations in Tazewell County. This feedback led to creation of an ISMS workgroup to look into how this national epidemic is causing death and despair in Illinois communities. The workgroup considered legislative options and educational opportunities that could be applied to this growing problem.

This issue continues to come up when I visit physician groups around the state and was raised during my visits to the DuPage, Lake and my home county of St. Clair. Some of these communities have also witnessed firsthand the correlation between opioid abuse and heroin use. Sadly, the tentacles of the drug abuse epidemic are far reaching, indeed.

The National Office for Drug Control and Prevention (NODCP) labels prescription drug abuse as the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified prescription drug abuse as an epidemic. In Illinois drug overdose fatalities now outpace motor vehicle deaths. In fact, drug overdose mortalities have increased 49 percent from 1999-2010. 

 opioidimageAs a result of this committee’s work and commitment to changing the culture, ISMS worked with ISMIE Mutual to develop a free online CME course to advance safe opioid prescription knowledge. “Achieving Safe Use While Improving Patient Care” is free to anyone, including any non-physician prescribers in your practice, so please forward this column and encourage your colleagues to sign up. ISMIE Mutual policyholders who complete the coursework are eligible for premium discounts (be sure to select the track for ISMIE when enrolling).

The course is available on demand, so take it at your leisure while picking up some necessary credit toward your 2014 mandatory licensure renewal CME requirements.

Taking this course could be an important first step for helping your patients and contributing to the end of an epidemic in our communities. I encourage you to take that step.

Early next year ISMS will be offering coursework on controlled substance prescribing, including topics such as:
  • E-prescribing,
  • PA and APN authority,
  • The Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program, and
  • Prescribing in hospitals and facilities.
Stay tuned for details.

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