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The American College of Physicians (ACP), one of the nation’s largest medical groups, has released a set of recommendations about how doctors can help reduce prescription drug abuse.

The group made 10 recommendations, including forming a national prescription drug monitoring program so prescribers and pharmacists can check in their own and neighboring states before writing and filling prescriptions for substances with high abuse potential. Currently many states have drug monitoring programs.

ACP also calls for increasing education programs for doctors and patients about prescription drug abuse, and promoting written agreements between doctors and patients being treated for pain. These agreements often describe the treatment, prohibited behaviors, responsibilities of the patient, and points when the treatment will be terminated.

CBS News reports the group recommends that doctors should prescribe controlled substances electronically, instead of on paper, to decrease the chance they will be diverted. Doctors should first consider non-opioid treatment for pain, according to the ACP. The group does not recommend a maximum dosage or treatment time limit.

The recommendations are published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

ACP President Dr. Molly Cooke said patients should realize drugs are not intended to relieve all pain. “If that’s what the patient’s mindset is he’s likely going to come back and say, I wasn’t getting enough relief and I doubled the prescription,” she told CBS News.


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