The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has deemed prescription drug abuse an epidemic in the U.S. Nonmedical use of prescription drugs has grown substantially since the 1990’s and is responsible for an increasing number of emergency department visits and overdose deaths. Mortality due to poisoning, the majority of which is caused by prescription and illicit drug use, is now the leading cause of injury death in the U.S., surpassing automobile fatalities.
In recognition of this significant public health threat, the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Division of Addictive Diseases, Office of Prevention Services and Programs funded The Council on Alcohol and Drugs to implement the Georgia Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Initiative (GPDAPI). An initial component of this Initiative was a Needs Assessment in order to gain a better understanding of the scope of the problem in the U.S. and in Georgia, establish a baseline understanding of the extent to which Georgians are impacted by prescription drug abuse and identify efforts to reduce and prevent such abuse.
The Needs Assessment was conducted using secondary data sources to obtain information in the domains of surveillance data, prescription drug policies, programs and interventions. Areas of emphasis for the Needs Assessment were driven by the specific program efforts to be implemented by The Council on Alcohol and Drugs throughout the program years of the Initiative. Program area efforts include education, prescription drug monitoring, proper medication disposal and assisting law enforcement. These specific efforts were initially outlined by the Office of National Drug Control Policy in their Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan.
The Needs Assessment was predicated on the assumption that a number of Georgians have prescription drug abuse related needs that are not being met or addressed adequately. The Needs Assessment presents the findings of a literature review and informal informational inquiries regarding the prevalence and impacts of prescription drug abuse nationally and in Georgia, as well as related policies, programs and interventions impacting prescription drug use.