Task force announces new prescription guidelines

A task force released new guidelines Thursday outlining practices for Pennsylvania physicians to follow when prescribing pain killers.

The goal is to stop addiction and abuse.

ABC27 talked to a former addict, who now works for Gaudenzia Addiction Treatment and Recovery Services. He said the guidelines will have a wide-reaching impact.

“Every class of citizens is affected by [addiction],” Anthony Shelly said, “and when someone goes down the addiction path, it affects the whole family.”

Anthony told ABC27 he was only 16 when he became hooked on prescription drugs after his new neighbors introduced him to them. He went on to abuse heroin; a practice he says is common amongst prescription drug addicts.

“A few years down the road is when you start to realize you’re grown up and your life has become unmanageable and you don’t have control over your life,” Anthony said. “If you get one or two bad bags, that’s it. Your life’s over.”

That’s why physicians, various state departments and the Pennsylvania Medical Society teamed up to form guidelines for doctors prescribing painkillers. The task force said the documents are designed to attack the problem before it can begin.

Task force members admitted some of the guidelines are vague, but they also said this shouldn’t be new information for doctors. The documents serve more as a reminder to be cautious.

“We find that it’s more effective actually to have them out there on a voluntary, educational basis rather than trying to order people around,” Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Gary Tennis said. “That just isn’t the way human nature works and actually in other states having them done voluntarily and promoted and having education training programs has been extremely effective.”

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