Just a few months shy of the implementation of Florida’s first prescription drug monitoring program, E-FORCSE, state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-new Port Richey, is already thinking ahead. According to an aide, Fasano plans to appropriate funds through the budget process to be used for drug treatment programs.

Florida has become notorious for being the prescription drug capital of the country, but a soon-to-be-implemented database (which will track prescription drugs) aims to change that. One of the goals of the database is to thwart “doctor shopping,” which occurs when patients seek multiple prescriptions from multiple doctors. The database also aims to cut off the supply of drugs for those who purchase drugs through illegal means, and act as a tool for doctors and health care professionals to ensure that their patients are using their medications properly.

Though the drug monitoring database didn’t exactly go off without a hitch (Gov. Rick Scott initially opposed it due to privacy and cost concerns), it has had its long-time proponents, like Fasano.

Now that E-FORSCE is less than two months away from going online, Fasano is looking toward the next steps in the process: appropriating funds for drug addiction treatment.

“If the database is successful … there is a potential for a large number of people needing treatment for drug addiction,” says Greg Giordano, Fasano’s chief legislative aide. “As chairman of the Senate Criminal & Civil Justice Appropriations Committee, Sen. Fasano would like to work through the budget process to help appropriate more money for drug treatment programs. He believes that this would be the responsible next step to take once drug supplies are cut off for those who obtain prescriptions illegally.”

The American Society of Addiction Medicine recently revised its definition of what it means to be an addict. The organization’s definition now describes addiction as a chronic brain disorder and not simply a behavioral problem involving too much alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex.

The Society also now defines addiction as a primary disease — meaning it isn’t simply the result of emotional or psychiatric problems, and must be treated and monitored over one’s lifetime. According to a press release, this marks the first time the Society has taken an official position that addiction is not solely related to problematic substance use.

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