The opioid epidemic has become a huge menace to the society. Years of vigilant, sustained, and coordinated effort is required to contain this problem and ameliorate the impact it has on the society. According to information on NCBI, the opioid epidemic is a serious problem that affects more than two million individuals and irrespective of the policies in place, these numbers are likely to increase with time. It is therefore important that the right measures are put in place to ensure the opioid epidemic is stopped.
When formulating ways of curbing the opioid epidemic, public awareness campaigns should be considered as these may prove to be beneficial. The more equipped people are with resources and information about the risks associated with opioids, the more they are likely to offer their support to those affected by the epidemic. Raising awareness can include using sources and platforms such as testimonial videos, radio advertisements, billboards, posters, digital advertisements, print advertisements, and websites to offer information regarding the effects of opioid addiction.
Improving Opioid Prescribing
The role played by opioid prescribers cannot be underestimated. Treatment medications can help alleviate or manage severe pain but could also pose a great risk of overdose, addiction, or even death. These risks are increased when the patient gets prescribed higher opioids doses. According to recent research findings, about sixty percent of patients who use prescription opioids also take other prescription drugs, putting them at a greater risk of overdose. Therefore, improving opioid prescribing can help to save lives. In 2016, CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) released a guideline for prescribing Opioids for severe pain. Following this guideline will help prevent cases of overdose, abuse, or addiction.
In the past year, more than eighty percent of Americans had contact with medical professionals. This places healthcare practitioners in a unique position to recognize the nonmedical use of medications and take the necessary measures to prevent the increase in misuse of prescribed drugs. By inquiring about drug usage, doctors can assist their patients to identify if a problem exists, refer them to the right mode of treatment, and set goals for recovery. Evidence-based screening equipment for the nonmedical use of prescribed medications can be included in the routine medical visits. Moreover, physicians should be careful about the rapid increases in the number of drugs required, as well as the unscheduled refill requests. Apart from that, it is of great importance if physicians realize that those who misuse prescription drugs may take part in “doctor shopping” in an effort to get multiple prescriptions for the drugs they require.
Pharmacists, on the other hand, can help patients to understand how they are to take their drugs. Moreover, by being watchful for prescription alterations or falsification, they can act as the first line of defense when it comes to identifying problematic prescriptions and drug abuse. Along with doctors, pharmacists can track opioid-prescribing patterns using PDMPs.
So, for the question as to whether or not the opioid epidemic can be stopped using the above measures; the answer is YES! As long as the patients, physicians, and pharmacists are willing to play their part in stopping this epidemic, then there is a high possibility of stopping the opioid epidemic.