A task force that’s developing recommendations to fight prescription drug abuse surveyed physicians and other prescribers in October. Some respondents wrote comments on the questionnaires expressing frustration with Maine’s abuse problem and the need for more action.

Some of the comments focused on the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program, a database of all opiate prescriptions. Doctors can use it to monitor their patients’ prescriptions and prevent addicts from doctor-shopping to stock up on pills.

Here are some excerpts:

• “The addiction rate is stunning and I would love to see something done about it. Unfortunately, I believe that part of the opioid problem lies with the practitioners who do not use the PMP, do not review medical records before prescribing opioids, do not have patients sign contracts and do not do drug testing.”

• “I have tried using the PMP but many times in the past could not get on, did not find it user-friendly, and now have not (renewed my registration). … The problem is doctors are not trained on what pain is, how to evaluate it, or how to treat it. For some reason doctors and others think ‘pain equals opiates.’“

• “We are pressured to prescribe pain medicine. … The people who want drugs know how to play the system. We are stuck dealing with the problem.”

• “We need legal protection when we say ‘No’ to patients who want opiates for chronic non-malignant pain … and in my opinion we should never use opiates for non-malignant chronic back pain. It is extremely rare to see any patient benefit from opiates. We have created a monster with the ‘fifth vital sign.’ “

• “I am new to the state of Maine and previously practiced in North Carolina. … I have never seen a bigger problem in abuse of prescription opioids. … I am still amazed at the prescribing patterns of many of the community providers who will give multiple refills and have not seen the patient for longer than six months. I have been here only one year and have already had three of my patients die of unintentional overdoses. All three of them I had identified as having a substance abuse problem and had stopped prescribing to them but they were able to get them from other sources.”