For Medical Professionals

The Trumbull County Mental Health & Recovery Board is mobilizing a broad spectrum of community stakeholders – spanning education, law enforcement, health and human services agencies, hospitals, parents, and others – to reduce the devastating impacts of drug abuse and addiction in our community. As a physician, dentist or pharmacist, we’re asking you to play an important role in that effort.

In particular, we ask you to do three important things:

Use the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS) system to check each of your patients and customers before you write or fill a prescription.
OARRS is a tool that allows prescribers, pharmacists and certain law enforcement officials to quickly identify drug seeking behaviors and thus help keep potentially dangerous medications out of the hands of addicts and abusers. An OARRS Prescription History Report also helps assure that your patient is getting the appropriate drug therapy and is taking his or her medication as prescribed. To access OARRS click here.

Be vigilant about watching for aberrant medication-related behaviors in your patients and customers.

In particular, theseten signs have been identified as red flags:

If you suspect your patient is abusing drugs, talk to them about their usage. If necessary, refer the patient to an appropriate treatment facility. Click here for a list of local treatment providers.

When treating a patient with controlled prescriptions, the earlier you can identify a problem the better. Always keep an eye and ear out for changes in behavior, failure to maintain eye contact, slurred speech, ready excuses for inappropriate or problem behaviors, and/or a nervous or jittery manner.

Also, learn to identify medication-seeking behavior. Patients who compulsively use medication, continue to use medication despite harm, complain they need more medication, horde medication, or request specific medications should raise your concern, says psychiatrist and attorney H. Westley Clark, who serves as director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in Rockville, Md.

Also, learn to differentiate between "yellow flag" and "red flag" behavior, says Cleveland-based internal and addiction-medicine physician Theodore Parran. Yellow flag behavior indicates a patient may be abusing prescriptions and you should proceed with caution when treating him. Red flag behavior indicates a patient's health or safety is threatened, and you should refer the person for an addiction assessment and titrate the person off of the medication.

Conference Report | May 22, 2012 |Aubrey Westgate