Educating healthcare practitioners can check opioid abuse: Study

Educating healthcare practitioners can check opioid abuse: Study

The menace of opioid abuse has led most of the American communities to the vicious cycle of addiction and relapse, with only a percentage of them having access to available treatment measures.

Most prescription painkillers are given to patients suffering from chronic pain or other critical diseases. Overdosing on these opioids or taking them in a manner or dosage not prescribed by physicians results in dependence on them. Those who overdose are well aware of the fact that it is unsafe to misuse and abuse opioids. However, they continue to do so.

According to a recent study, imparting education to various quarters about the ill effects of opioid abuse is an important tool to check the problem. The study, titled “Current State of Opioid Therapy and Abuse,” published online in the journal Current Pain and Headache Reports in April 2016, focused on the need to educate medical practitioners and pharmacists and patients about opioid prescriptions prior to the administration of opioid therapy.

Technology not proving to be effective

Stressing on the fact that technologies cannot yield the desired effect as education, Adam Kaye, a professor of pharmacy at University of the Pacific, said, “Education is the foremost strategy. We must educate primary care providers, surgeons, pharmacists and other health professionals, as well as patients.”

To deter people from crushing or injecting opioids to get a high, researchers have devised technologies that make it difficult for people to abuse these pain relievers. They have come up with methods, like coating the drug with polyethylene oxide to prevent accidental chewing or crushing or doing away with niacin in opioids which causes adverse impact if crushed or chewed.

Despite the rampant use of technologies to impede drug abuse, they are not proving to be an effective  means to inhibit the scourge of opioid abuse, the researchers said. At the same time, the scientists hoped that educating doctors about the detrimental effects of opioid abuse can go a long way in helping curb the menace.

Kaye said that pharmacists can play a vital role in bringing down opioid abuse and deaths, including that of celebrities. Hence, it is important to make substantial efforts to educate healthcare practitioners as well as patients about devastating impacts of opioids.

Necessary guidelines have been put in place by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee and the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee requiring pharmacists to undergo necessary training and to receive education on opioids to prevent further abuse.

Seeking treatment

Opioid overdose deaths account for nearly 61 percent drug overdose deaths in America. More than 28,000 people died of opioid overdose deaths in 2014, the highest figure in any year till date, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In its report, “Injury Prevention & Control: Opioid Overdose,” the CDC revealed that nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription drug. Also, opioid overdoses result in deaths of approximately 78 Americans each day.

Addiction to anything is harmful. The misconception that opioid overdoses are prevalent only among drug abusers or those with suicidal tendencies has only aggravated the problem. Addiction does not happen by accident. Overdose and abuse of opioids make people dependent on them.

If you or your loved one is addicted to any prescription drug and is looking for treatment, you may contact the California Prescription Abuse Helpline for information about various prescription drug rehabs in California. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number (855) 738-2770 or chat online for further expert advice.