NJ may require docs to discuss possibility of addiction when prescribing painkillers

OxyContin pills are arranged for a photo at a pharmacy. (Toby Talbot/AP Photo, File)

OxyContin pills are arranged for a photo at a pharmacy. (Toby Talbot/AP Photo, File)

Advocates are pushing for a new law to require doctors in New Jersey to talk with patients about the risks of addiction when they initially prescribe painkillers.

Leaders of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey say abuse of prescription painkillers has reached epidemic proportions and can lead to heroin addiction.

A poll conducted for partnership founds that 91 percent of those surveyed support such a measure.

Doctors have an array of alternative treatments to prescribe for their patents’ pain, said Dr. Shuvendu Sen of the Raritan Bay Medical Center.

“There’s a whole world of treasure lying out there — cognitive behavioral therapy, massage medication, music, acupuncture,” he said. “We’ve got to focus on those things. There’s no point in giving them medication when it takes off your pain but it takes off your life.”

Tom Allen became addicted to painkillers after rupturing some discs in his neck while working out at a gym. Now the CEO of Summit Behavioral Health, a drug and alcohol treatment program, Allen supports legislation requiring doctors to provide that addiction information.

“I think this will go a long way of educating both the doctor and the consumer,” he said. “I wish something like this was around all those years ago. I don’t know if it would have made the end difference, but it would have at least put a thought in my head.”

The legislation is opposed by some physicians who believe the mandate would be a time-consuming burden.

Approved by the Senate in December, it’s still awaiting action in the Assembly.

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