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Research examines dentists' role in painkiller abuse
Date:7/1/2011

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] The Obama administration turned a bright spotlight on prescription painkiller abuse in April when the Office of National Drug Control Policy released a national action plan and a statement from Vice President Joe Biden. With a cover article in the July edition of the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), dentists focus that spotlight on themselves both as major sources of opioid drugs and as professionals with largely untapped power to recognize and reduce abuse.

"Many dentists really haven't even perceived there to be a problem," said George Kenna, an assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, an addiction psychologist at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, and the corresponding author of the article. "Dentists write the third-most prescriptions for immediate release opioids in the United States, but they often don't know the appropriate number of doses to prescribe, how many doses a patient uses, or most importantly what patients do with the leftover tablets they have. Just ask someone the last time they threw away opioid prescriptions in particular. These leftover tablets accumulated from various sources, not just dentists that are often left in closets across the country are the primary source for prescription drug use initiation for children and adolescents."

As outlined by the administration's policy, facilitating ways to reduce the number of leftover painkillers such as hydrocodone and oxycodone that can become a supply of drugs in the home for those who would abuse them, dentists and other prescribers would be taking a significant step, said Kenna who is also a pharmacist. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health has found that seven in 10 people who have used painkillers nonmedically got the drugs through a family member or friend who had a prescription.

Last year Kenna helped lead a meetin
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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

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