"We've been wrestling with physicians handling the prescription drug abuse issue," Dowling says, "and I think physicians have been wrestling with it." Physicians must confront the issues of "overprescribing or being duped into prescribing for someone who is drug seeking," Dowling says.
"Every physician is going to ask: what medication is the patient on?" Dowling asks. "If the patient is showing signs of drug abuse, there's a way to open the dialogue."
Dowling blames the lack of medical school training for physician failure to penetrate drug abuse. "It's not taught well in medical schools," she says. (Physicians) don't feel comfortable addressing it. Physicians have such a huge burden on them, how much they have to do in a short period of time, and they don't know if they have the tools to address it."
To improve the system, the NIH is working to "get substance abuse questions incorporated into electronic health records to make it easier to address the issue," Dowling says. "This wouldn't be accusatory, [but] something the physicians asks routinely of his patients," she said. In addition, NIH is working with centers of excellence to develop curricula to help train physicians regarding substance abuse.
A Long Day's Journey into Night is a powerful play, with Act III "completely surrounding the matriarch addicted to morphine, the family dynamics with alcohol abuse," says Dowling.
Dramatic readings spur debate and emotion. And real life testimony in the halls of Congress about a woman's loss of her son touches the soul. Both send home the message: physicians need to take action to stop drug abuse, prescription or otherwise.