Prescription opioids can lead to dependence, misuse, addiction, and overdose.
Utah Clinical Guidelines on Prescribing Opioids for Treatment of Pain were produced and made available to medical providers. These guidelines were developed by a multidisciplinary consensus panel after a review of existing evidence-based guidelines. Common recommendations were compiled and presented to the panel for review. The guidelines consist of a set of recommendations for both acute and chronic pain. A second panel reviewed existing tools for providers and determined the need for any new tools. The final guidelines include 20 tools for providers to use in their practice.
Don’t guess, assess. Research shows that when anxiety and depression are treated first, pain symptoms go down. Screen patients for opioid use disorder and mental health disorders. 65% of prescription opioid deaths involve someone with a current mental health issue. Risk assessment tools can help identify these individuals.
The Utah Controlled Substance Database program (CSD) is a prescription monitoring program that can be used to identify potential cases of drug abuse and over-prescribing. But the database is underutilized. Physicians fail to identify opioid abusers 86% of the time.
Take time to make sure your patients understand the potential risks of opioids, even when taking as prescribed. If you do prescribe, start low and go slow. Talk about the warning signs of dependency and addiction. Discuss non-opioid treatment methods.
Review the signs and symptoms of an overdose with the patient and their family. Make sure everyone understands what naloxone is, where to get it, and how to administer it. Remind them to always call 9-1-1 in case of an overdose, even if they have naloxone.
"We, as clinicians are uniquely positioned to turn the tide on the opioid epidemic."