Last Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a nationwide fraud crackdown focusing on doctors who participated in illegal opioid overprescription. Over 400 doctors and pharmacists were implicated for prescribing unnecessary drugs and treatments that worsened patients’ conditions and left them vulnerable to addiction.
Cracking Down on Opioid Overprescription
The crackdown signals a shift in law enforcement policy in the wake of extensive medical fraud. Opioid overprescription was linked to over $1 billion in false billings, most of which were directly fulfilled by Medicare and Medicaid. “We want to send a message to those that are violating the law that we are coming after you,” Sessions said in a press conference.
In the coming months, the Department of Justice will begin a large-scale effort to mine healthcare databases and identify doctors and pharmacists who over-prescribe and over-distribute opioid substances. The crackdown includes highly addictive prescription painkillers like Oxycontin and Vicodin, which create dependencies and often lead to heroin abuse.
A Larger Problem
This move comes as a reaction to the growing opioid epidemic. Drug Rehab Centers are filled with people whose drug addiction began with a prescription for opioids, perhaps when they didn’t really need it. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 60,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2016, an increase of nearly 20% over the previous year. Prescriptions for painkillers have doubled in the last twenty years in many areas, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine estimates that as many as three million people nationwide suffer from an opioid addiction.
Many states and municipalities are urging the federal government to take a more active role in combating opioid overprescription, which has rapidly worsened over the past five years. The growing popularity of prescription painkillers has led many patients to switch to heroin and the dangerous synthetic opioid, fentanyl. Several officials connected to the crisis, including state governors and an independent White House commission, have recently urged the president to declare a national public health emergency.
If you know someone who has suffered from opioid overprescription, there are many effective resources and treatments available. During difficult times, it’s important to care for the people that you love and get them the help that they need. The staff of CARUS Recovery is deeply concerned with this issue, and is ready to provide assistance to anyone seeking treatment for opioid addictions. Please call 877-225-7724 to speak to one of our qualified, licensed counselors about your situation.