04 Oct Are the New Pain Management Laws in Georgia Helping With the State’s Drug Problem?
Do you currently suffer from pain? Many people experience pain every single day. In a sense, pain is all around us—it is everywhere. In an attempt to combat the State of Georgia’s drug epidemic, new pain management laws have been implemented. Mainly, these new laws have been established to reduce the number of prescribed pain meds. While there are many different reasons as to why someone chooses to get high, more often than not, it is to get rid of the pain. Though even if someone uses prescription drugs for the right reason, he or she can still become addicted and later abuse his or her own prescriptions.
However, these new laws bring forth an important question: Will Georgia’s drug problem decrease due to these new laws?
This article will explore the new laws set in motion by the state, as well as explore opioid addiction and abuse, and the importance of getting help.
When it comes to getting help, which will be explored later on in this article, it is important to have an open mind. The recovery process takes time and energy. Before an addict can get the proper help he or she needs, they are actually going to want to get better themselves. Unfortunately, an individual has to acknowledge a problem exists before that problem can be treated.
That is one of the main reasons as to why these new laws have been created: to treat the drug problem that exists. Again, in order for these laws to become effective, it is necessary for people to have an open mind and be patient.
There Is a Drug Crisis
You are most likely well aware that a drug crisis is plaguing the State of Georgia. Sure, this epidemic can be found in towns and cities across the country, but in Georgia, action has been taken to help promote change.
Pain is everywhere, experienced by all—no matter what age. Therefore, pain medication is easily found, often prescribed by doctors, and if taken too frequently, easy for a person to become addicted to it. This opioid addiction often occurs once an individual’s tolerance for the pain has increased. With a higher tolerance comes the need for more meds, resulting in a downward spiral, which can generally only be stopped with detox and rehabilitation.
In order to control this crisis, new pain management laws and rules have been established. According to David W. Gale, M.D., these laws are helping to make the medical industry safer for doctors, which allows them to treat patients better.
About the New Laws and Regulations
In May 2013, the Georgia Pain Management Clinic Act (HB 178), or the “Pill Mill Bill,” was officially signed into law. This law was basically established to keep out those with criminal intent, not to interfere with doctors taking care of legit patients.
In 2010 and 2011, there was a bust in the State of Florida, in which “pill mills” advertised that individuals could get pain medication without any sort of insurance or referral. Due to the relatively close distance, many were seen driving outside of Georgia to get prescriptions from, unbeknownst to them, owners of non-licensed practices with a motive for profit.
The law passed in 2013 is safe and simple: Every medical practice in which more than 50 percent of the patient population receives schedule II or III controlled substances to treat chronic pain must now be licensed by the Georgia Composite Medical Board (GCMB). Specifically, it allows the medical board to perform background checks on physicians, and verify that each office is in fact owned by a Georgia medical licensed physician.
Interestingly enough, there is a very small amount of medical practices that have more than 50 percent of their entire patient population on daily doses of opioids for the treatment of chronic pain, almost making the law moot. Yet, it is there for protection and protects both patient and doctor.
Further, it has been noted that state legislators and state medical societies worked very closely with the Georgia Composite Medical Board (GMCB) to pass laws and regulations that only made sense, but also promoted a positive change throughout the community.
Perhaps that is something of importance to note: These new regulations were not created to punish or cause any sort of confusion or harm, but the complete opposite. These rules have been put in place to ensure safety and should be looked at with a certain amount of open-mindedness. The ultimate goal was to allow licensed and competent physicians the ability to still prescribe medication to patients with real pain management issues.
Specific factors of the GCMB Rule 360-3-06—Pain Management include the following:
- The rule only applies to patients requiring essential daily opioid medications for more than 90 days to treat chronic pain
- The new regulations do not apply to in-patients, terminal patients, hospice patients, or patients in nursing homes
- A physical exam must be performed
- In order for a patient to be prescribed a Schedule II or Schedule III controlled substance for chronic pain, he or she needs to be seen at least once every three months
- Patients must be monitored using bodily fluids
- The above regulations do not apply to Tramadol
- If not a board-certified pain specialist, the GMCB requires biennial pain-specific CME and to register through the GMCB with a pain license
Perhaps some of the most misconstrued or blatantly falsified facts regarding the new pain management laws include the following:
- The new laws do not allow specialists to prescribe pain medication
- The license will not allow the specialist to prescribe narcotics
- Only pain specialists can write prescriptions for narcotics
It is imperative to understand the facts before placing judgment on these new rules, particularly since it can be argued that they have helped with Georgia’s opioid epidemic.
The Drug Problem in Georgia
As stated above, the State of Georgia is plagued with a drug epidemic. Though factors have been put in place to assist with this epidemic, the problem still remains. Specifically, opioids have impacted the state and numerous communities, with, according to Georgia Drug Detox, more than 1,000 overdoses a year.
Other popular drugs in Georgia include the following:
Though these drugs are problematic throughout the state, certain measures are being taken to help end the drug crisis. These measures include the new laws listed above, as well as the following:
- House Bill 88
- House Bill 121
- House Bill 249
- Georgia’s 911 Medical Amnesty Law
- Statewide Media Campaigns
- Recovery Services
- Peer Support
- Senate Bill 614
- Senate Bill 344
In a word, yes, these laws are helping with the state’s drug problem. However, as with any type of new law taking effect in any city, it will take practice, time, and patience for the law to fully cause an impact.
One way to ensure these laws get the attention they need and deserve to become effective is to give them a chance. Before judgment is placed on them, educate yourself and try to see it from a positive outlook. This is not the state’s way of taking away all drugs—the complete opposite, actually. These rules have been put in place to ensure the right parties receive the appropriate medication and dosage for their type of pain.
That is how this drug epidemic in Georgia can (hopefully) come to an end: Keeping prescriptions away from the people who do not warrant them.
What Illegal Drugs Can Do
It goes without saying that illegal drugs of any kind can greatly rip a community apart. Yet, for the individual involved with the drug, the consequences can be even greater, including prison time, health issues, and death.
As stated, one of the main drugs commonly abused throughout Georgia is opioids, which is why Georgia pain management laws have been put into place. When an individual abuses opioids the following symptoms are likely to occur:
- Increased anxiety, including anxiety attacks
- Improved self-esteem
- Lowered motivation
- Increased sensitivity
- Constricted blood vessels
- Increased heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Increased energy
- Decreased appetite
- Increased sexual arousal
- Physical agitation
- Trouble sleeping
Side effects of abusing opioids include the following:
- Chest pain
As you can see, these symptoms are serious and can be deadly. Not only does a person abusing opioids have to worry about their health, but the legal ramifications that can also unfold. These drug possession laws in Georgia can include jail time, prison time, probation, license suspension, court-ordered drug awareness courses, and more.
Georgia pain management drug testing laws have been established to end the drug crisis, preventing the symptoms listed above from occurring.
Once an addicted individual makes the decision to stop using opioids, he or she will likely experience a variety of withdraw symptoms. These symptoms generally include the following:
- Physical cravings
- Psychological cravings
- Stomach pain
- Cold sweat
- Muscle tension
- Trouble sleeping
- Enlarged pupils
- Bone pain
Though these symptoms sound painful and inconvenient, they are worth suffering through in order to stop abusing opioids. The symptoms of withdrawing will not last forever. Yes, there will be a time of pain and discomfort, but this period will pass within a few weeks. It is necessary to let the drugs get completely out of your system, which will allow you to move on with your life.
Getting Help and Going through Detox
Depending on the nature of the drug problem, an individual may need to find a rehabilitation center in order to recover. There are many different recovery options in the State of Georgia, and the key is in finding the appropriate one for you and your needs.
When searching for a facility to detox, it is recommended that you visit the different options, read views, speak with staff members, and if possible, talk to past patients. Each rehab will provide different types of assistance. For example, some offer group therapy, while others will take a more one-on-one approach to heal. Which method will work best for you?
Before the enrollment of rehab, there are a few other steps that may need to be taken.
First and foremost, in order for a person to get adequate help, he or she must be ready to get help. This means it will be necessary to admit that a problem exists, before dedicating the time and energy it takes to go through the recovery process.
If you are not the specific person struggling with drug addiction, but a friend or family member, you could try speaking with them. If you recognize symptoms of a problem, speak up, as you could save a life. However, when you do decide to speak up, it is important to stay calm, not judge or accuse.
Depending on the circumstances, an intervention may need to take place. If the addict is struggling greatly, then family and friends may need to join forces to showcase this individual just how badly his or her life is deteriorating. Then, checking into a rehabilitation is the final step.
Never Too Late for Help
Though some may argue, it is never too late for an addict to seek help. There is no such thing as being “too far gone.” Regardless of symptoms or legal troubles that may have occurred due to the addiction, there is always an option to choose recovery and create a better, drug-free life.
Further, many are concerned with the price of treatment, as rehab facilities can often be expensive. Even if you have insurance, your provider may not cover the stay or entire stay, and then there are those individuals who do not have insurance.
Simply put, a person should not seek help because of the money. Again, there are many different recovery options available. Therefore, if you or someone you know needs help getting off of opioids or any other type of harmful drug, start the process today. There is no reason to wait or put off recovery, as doing so could lead to further trouble and damage. If you want to get help, why not begin now?