Opioid use is at an epidemic level and has been for some time. Lacking regulation, over-prescribing and increased drug trafficking led to 70,237 drug overdose deaths in 2017. 47,600 of those deaths involved prescription or synthetic opioids and 5,088 of those deaths occurred in Florida – a 5.9 percent increase from 2016. Florida’s new opioid law hopes to lower that number; at least the overdoses tied to over-prescribing.

The law mandates that doctors examine a statewide database of opioid and non-opioid drugs; like Adderall, Ritalin, Ambien, steroids and Xanax before prescribing them to patients 16 and older. The database covers over 100 drugs, but there is no limit on prescriptions of non-opioid drugs. The goal of the new program, called E-FORCSE, is to cut down the continual prescriptions to patients who go “doctor shopping.” The term defines a patient who visits multiple doctors to illegally obtain multiple prescriptions at the same time. All controlled substances in Schedule II to V are included in the database.

If physicians or health providers violate the law and over-prescribe they will be subject to penalties against their license. The law does not restrict prescriptions for certain circumstances, including chronic pain, and patients dealing with cancer, terminal diseases, life-limiting illnesses or traumatic injuries.

The Florida Department of Health has released an educational website if you would like to learn more about the law. Read up on the facts and side effects of your prescriptions before taking them. Even closely monitored, opioids are a very addictive substance