JOPLIN, Mo. — Missouri’s prescription drug monitoring program is serving multiple purposes… Not just for the prevention of doctor shopping.

It was officially approved in the Show-Me-State about a year ago, implemented in the fall, and mental health experts are hopeful for how it could prevent suicide. That’s our next edition of The Suicide Crisis: Prevention, Information, and Awareness.

“According to last cdc data, about 136 people die everyday in the us from overdose of opioids,” said Dr. Nauman Ashraf, Freeman Health System Addiction Services Medical Director.

It’s a staggering statistic mental health professionals are urgently working to decrease.

“One of the hypotheses is that says people are treating their own illnesses by using drugs. So, suppose somebody’s struggling with depression or anxiety, they come across a drug that they feel like it’s cured, they start using it. Like, opioids work for depression,” said Dr. Ashraf.

Another possibility of leading to addiction has to do with certain childhood attachments not formed properly.

“If those attachments are not formed well, they’re not secured well, then they are looking for some other attachment when they’re alone and when they are hurting. To numb that pain, they go towards drugs, so that’s how mental health comes into play.

Missouri’s recent approval to join the nationwide prescription drug monitoring program, or PDMP, is taking aim at addiction and mental health.

“It is designed for the prescriber, so they can review the history of all the patients, what medications they have had, controlled drugs, and then that can inform their safe prescription,” said Dr. Ashraf

Overdose deaths nationwide have increased between 2019 and 2020, the last year of data on record – much of it tied to addiction and mental health as a whole.

“During that disease, either they do not know how much is safe for them or it’s just part of the disease that their body gets tolerant to whatever they’re using and they want more and more drugs, and they’re doctor shopping, going to other places and getting their drugs.”

The PDMP is then used as a tool to help patients take prescribed drugs appropriately.

“The providers can go and review all of the records of the controlled drugs that patient has, because if they take too much of the controlled medication, that can cause the suppression of their breathing center and that can lead to overdose death,” said Dr. Ashraf

Dr. Ashraf added that a PDMP can help doctors when prescribing so patients struggling with addiction can become whole again.

“They got the job, they got the house, and they took care of their legal issues. They can get their family together. So, that’s the end goal, bringing that functionality back to the patient’s life and making them part of society again,” he said

As a reminder, if you know anyone struggling with their mental health and they need someone to talk to, we urge you to call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.