• 43°

Editorial: STOP Act is critical step in addressing opioid crisis

North Carolina’s Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention law — the STOP Act — has successfully thrown up barriers to the abuse of prescription narcotics. Truly stopping the opioid crisis will require much more, though. Scarcity of prescription painkillers is said to be driving up demand for heroin and other illicit opiates, which are cheaper and more readily available. Meanwhile, addicts who want to go clean struggle to find treatment that is affordable and accessible.

That said, over-prescribing has certainly been a key part of the addiction crisis, and the STOP Act fittingly reins in prescribers. Since Jan. 1, N.C. physicians may send patients home with only five days’ worth of a narcotic medication after an initial consultation for acute pain or seven days’ worth if a patient has had surgery. Prescribers must also report to the N.C. Controlled Substances Reporting System. The new limits prevent doctors from unwittingly creating new addicts. Combined with the reporting system, the limits and also stop people accustomed to doctor-shopping for pills to fuel their own addiction or to sell to other people. Doctors are slow to prescribe these drugs now.

Understandably, some chronic pain sufferers resent the law and the addicts who prompted it. They should also blame drug manufacturers who flooded the nation with high-powered painkillers while denying the pills’ highly addictive nature. Pain suddenly was “the fifth vital sign,”  one that doctors were accused of ignoring. Meanwhile, a few pharmaceutical companies looked the other way — or saw dollar signs — as small pharmacies ordered huge quantities of opioid painkillers. For example, a single pharmacy in Kermit, West Virginia, population 392, received roughly 9 million pills over two years, pills obviously bound for the black market.

Then there are the laws with which Congress has tied the hands of the Drug Enforcement Agency. The opioid crisis has countless contributing factors.

Bringing the over-prescribing of pain meds to a halt may be the easy part of addressing the opioid crisis. The people writing the prescriptions are easily identifiable professionals. Ditto for the drug stores that dispense them.

Other steps in the state’s Opioid Action Plan include:

• Reducing the diversion of prescription drugs and the flow of illicit drugs — something law enforcement works on every day.

• Increasing community awareness and prevention.

• Making naloxone widely available.

• Expanding treatment and recovery systems of care.

In the face of such a daunting problem, it’s easy to feel hopeless about solving the opioid crisis. For that reason, every success should be held up. The STOP Act is doing what it was designed to do, reining in opioid prescriptions. That’s a critical step. North Carolina must keep up the fight.

Comments

Local

Bell Tower Green renamed to honor Stanbacks; Nancy Stanback receives key to city

Business

Commissioners green light additional houses at Cherry Treesort in China Grove

Education

A.L. Brown will hold in-person, outdoor graduation

Local

Granite Quarry awards FEMA contract for Granite Lake Park

Local

City to vote on apartment developments, final phases of Grants Creek Greenway project

High School

High school football: North receiver McArthur a rising star

Columnists

Carl Blankenship: Pollen and prejudice make their return

News

Harris pitches $2.3T spending plan on trip to North Carolina

Nation/World

Murder case against ex-cop in Floyd’s death goes to the jury

Crime

Sheriff’s office: Man takes deputies on chase with stolen moped

Coronavirus

Afternoon, evening COVID-19 vaccination clinic planned Thursday

Crime

Concord man charged with woman’s murder in drive-by shooting

Ask Us

Ask Us: Have city, county elected officials received COVID-19 vaccine?

Local

City gives away nearly 100 trees during ‘We Dig Salisbury’ event

Local

Political Notebook: Bitzer expects most ‘Trump-like’ candidate to be favorite in state’s Senate race

Crime

Blotter: Concord man arrested in Rowan for indecent liberties with children

Coronavirus

Half of US adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot

Nation/World

Police: FedEx shooter legally bought guns used in shooting

News

Hester Ford, oldest living American, dies at 115 … or 116?

Local

Size of pipeline spill again underestimated in North Carolina

BREAKING NEWS

Kannapolis Police searching for suspect who fled scene of homicide

Education

RSS superintendent talks district’s future, strategic plan survey

News

Complaints and fines pile up against unpermitted landfill in southwest Rowan County

College

Catawba baseball: Crowd comes out to say goodbye to Newman Park