Two weeks ago, The Madison Courier published a story about the increasing abuse and misuse of prescription drugs - sometimes resulting in fatal overdoses.

Most of the misuse and abuse involves pain killers. But any drug has the potential to be misused or abused. The three most common are:

•Painkillers (opioid or narcotic pain relievers) are taken to get high, dull pain or to change a mood

•Depressants (treats anxiety or sleep disorders) are often used to "relax or wind down," or come back down after stimulant use

• Stimulants (for attention deficit disorders) for staying awake or come back up after stimulants

This is a nationwide problem. And now, Indiana's Medical Licensing Board is attempting to tackle the problem.

The panel voted last week on a new rule to help patients and physicians keep better track of prescription drugs. State lawmakers tasked the board earlier this year with creating new rules aimed to curb an increase in prescription painkiller overdoses.

Starting Dec. 15, doctors will have to monitor patient histories through a state drug-monitoring system. Attorney General Greg Zoeller says the new rule will help prevent cases of doctor shopping and overprescribing.

Zoeller has filed complaints against 15 doctors in the past two years for overprescribing drugs.

The state has a very good website that offers insight into the problem and suggestions of where to find help. Visit

For years, this kind of drug abuse didn't get the attention it need. Society has focused on marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine while the misuse of prescription drugs increased to the levels that nationwide, one person dies every 15 minutes from prescription drug abuse.

The state is taking the right approach. The public needs to be educated and doctors who knowingly overprescribe need to be punished.