Families across the country are dealing with the effects of opioid addiction in their communities. Increasing awareness about the risk of prescription opioids can help prevent cases of misuse. Having an open dialogue is critical in communicating the severity of the opioid epidemic.
Follow the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain
The CDC has published guidelines to improve the way opioids are prescribed by physicians. This guideline addresses when to initiate or continue opioids for chronic pain; opioid selection, dosage, duration, follow-up, and discontinuation; and assessing risk and addressing harms of opioid use.
Assess How Much Pain the Patient Is In
Ask your patient to assess his or her pain level and attempt to discern whether opioids are necessary. Specify whether your patient is sore, uncomfortable, or in serious pain. Help your patient understand that discomfort is normal after surgery and will improve after a couple of days.
Properly Secure Them
If you prescribe opioids, inform your patients how to safeguard them. A locked cabinet or medicine safe box can ensure that only the patient has access. Should your patient no longer choose to use opioids, he or she can safely dispose of them through a drug take-back location, such as a local pharmacy or law enforcement.
Use Safe Alternatives
Fortunately, safe alternatives for alleviating pain exist:
- - Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories and acetaminophen are over-the-counter and nonaddictive.
- - Localized numbing of pain areas can relieve discomfort for around 18-24 hours.
- - Non-drug alternatives, such as ice, massages, physical therapy, and relaxation training, can be just as useful.
The American Society of Anesthesiologists recommends using prescription painkillers sparingly, if at all, after surgery. If the pain is extreme, opioids should only be taken for a day or two. Prescribing a month’s supply only contributes to the epidemic.
Patients who undergo surgery often require strong opioids to manage their pain. However, physicians may prescribe too many, causing their patients to become dependent and ultimately addicted. Inform your patients how they can avoid opioid addiction after surgery with these tips.
- Alternatives for managing pain that aren’t opioids. Beaumont Health. Accessed November 27, 2018.
- CDC guideline for prescribing opioids for chronic pain. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. August 31, 2018. Accessed December 5, 2018.
- Welch A. How to prevent opioid dependence. Everyday Health. November 27, 2018. Accessed December 5, 2018.
- How can prescription drug misuse be prevented? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Updated January 2018. Accessed December 5, 2018.