All North Dakota Cities

ND Lowest in Drug Overdose Deaths

A new report, Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic, lists North Dakota as having the fewest drug overdose deaths on a per capita basis. With a rate of 3.4 deaths per 100,000 residents, our state is doing quite well compared to the highest on the list, West Virginia, at 29.4.

Other metrics tracked in the study include a score on ten drug abuse prevention factors, including items like prescription tracking, ID requirements for controlled substances, and training on abuse for medical personnel. We didn’t do as well on that ranking, falling in the middle of the pack with a score of 6 out of 10. Arguably, the abuse prevention factors don’t correlate as well as one might expect, with West Virginia scoring an 8, despite their much higher rates of overdose deaths.

The report gives the following recommendations to help reduce prescription drug abuse:

• Educate the public to understand the risks of prescription drug use to avoid misuse in the first place;

• Ensure responsible prescribing practices, including increasing education of healthcare providers and prescribers to better understand how medications can be misused and to identify patients in need of treatment;

• Increase understanding about safe storage of medication and proper disposal of unused medications, such as through "take back" programs;

• Make sure patients do receive the pain and other medications they need, and that patients have access to safe and effective drugs;

• Improve, modernize and fully-fund Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, so they are real-time, interstate and incorporated into Electronic Health Records, to quickly identify patients in need of treatment and connect them with appropriate care and identify doctor shoppers and problem prescribers;

• Make rescue medications more widely available by increasing access for at-risk individuals to naloxone and provide immunity for individuals and others seeking help;

• Expand access to and availability of effective treatment options as a key component of any strategy to combat prescription drug abuse.

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