TEMPLE - President Donald Trump has declared opioid misuse an emergency in the United States late last week.
Texas doctors fighting the opioid epidemic have turned to a database called the prescription monitoring program, or P.M.P., for answers.
The program tracks every opioid prescription handed out. The doctors' hope is to reduce the 13 percent of opioid prescriptions sought with misuse intentions.
95 percent of Vicodin is consumed in the United States and Canada, and 15,000 people died in 2000 from opioid abuse, according to Dr. Daniel Akers, Medical Director at Express ER.
The opioid epidemic continues to get worse as the number of opioid-related deaths rises exponentially. Nearly 65,000 deaths related to opioid overdoses is expected in 2017 -- more than the number of people killed in the Vietnam War.
"It really is alarming when you see someone spending the majority of their waking days seeking opioids from physicians," Akers said.
The P.M.P. tracks drugs such as Fentanyl, Oxycontin, and Vicodin.
Akers said he uses the database often.
"Almost every day... every day I practice," Akers said. "I'll have a new patient come in who's story is not consistent with their illness or they'll flat-out request opioid pain medications. Then, I'll look their name up on the system and sometimes I'll get a 40-page report back."
The database has been around for years, according to Akers. In the past two years, the system has become an enormous help for doctors trying to reduce opioid abuse.
Round Rock resident Carlie Pearson recovered from an opioid addiction in 2013. Pearson said she did not have to doctor shop. She was prescribed her opioids.
Pearson said while the database isn't a solution to the epidemic, it is a sign of progress.
"I think it might be a step in the right direction," Pearson said.
Pearson and Akers agree that there needs to be an increase in treatment and a decrease in prescriptions of opioids to help fight off the epidemic.
Akers said the database has been extremely helpful, but there is still a ton of ground to cover as doctors nationwide enter seven years of fighting opioid abuse.
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