New database hopes to curb over-prescribing addictive drugs

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A new database to curb the over-prescribing and addiction of pharmaceuticals can prevent people from getting hooked on controlled substances, according to the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control.

South Carolina’s prescription monitoring program, known as SCRIPTS, requires doctors to check the prescription history and enter new script dosage of controlled substances for people with medicaid or a state health plan.

Unfortunately, Debra Close, of Spartanburg, was not aware of this database until it was too late.

When we asked Close about her addiction to a controlled anti-depressant, she told us her doctor never informed her of the dangers of getting hooked.

“The problem was I’d start out with 50mg a day and by the time, I would be up to 200mg a day, and it took someone in pre-med to say, you’re almost at a threshold to where it’s dangerous, your heart’s going to stop at night. My doctor never told me that.” Close said.

An inspector general report ranked South Carolina as 11th highest in the nation for prescribing painkillers, with 102 prescriptions written for every 100 people.

We talked with the executive director of the Forrester Center for Behavioral Health, Susan O’Brien, about the program, and she told us she hopes it will help prevent addiction, but that she’s still worried about the people who are already hooked.

O’Brien is afraid those people may end up turning to the streets.

“What we don’t want to have happen, because what we’ve seen in other states, and it’s a debate whether this is really what the situation is, is that if it becomes too militant and it becomes too strict, then what happens is you might take the drug away, but the dependence is still there…” said O’Brien. “Because what we don’t want is then that switch to heroin.”

Close, who lost her job because of her addiction, thinks the database is a crucial step to keeping doctors and patients in check.

Close is currently going to therapy, and said “You know I’ve hit bottom, I’ve got nowhere else to go but up.”

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