Prescription opioids are fueling a national epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose and more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency rooms daily for not using opioid prescriptions as directed.
As the opioid abuse epidemic continues to take its toll on families across the country, there is an urgent need to raise awareness about steps that can be taken to reduce misuse and abuse of these medicines.
That’s where Allied Against Opioid Abuse (AAOA) can help. AAOA is a partner-based educational initiative to prevent prescription opioid abuse and misuse. The PA Foundation has joined with other leading partners to arm healthcare providers, patients and their families with resources to help prevent old or unused prescriptions from ending up in the wrong hands.
The PA Foundation is dedicated to promoting better health and positively impacting PAs, their patients and the communities they serve. PAs are trusted healthcare providers, working collaboratively with physicians and prescribing medication to their patients. PAs are often on the front lines of the opioid crisis in their communities and have a responsibility to provide patients with the best care, which includes giving them information about pain management options and the serious risks associated with opioid use. As a member of Allied Against Opioid Abuse, the PA Foundation is working with stakeholders to reduce opioid abuse and misuse through education and raising awareness.
Patients play an important role in preventing the misuse and abuse of opioids, but it is important that everyone knows about the rights, risks and responsibilities associated with these prescriptions.
- Rights – Make sure to get the information you need to make an informed decision about your prescription medication. First, talk to your healthcare provider about your pain-relief options. If opioids are dispensed, consider getting a partial-fill (available in some states), which limits the number of pills a patient takes home. Partial-fill, when available, can be a useful tool to limit the supply of opioids available at home, reducing the risk of misuse by those for whom the medication is not prescribed.
- Risks – The use of prescription opioids carries serious risks of addiction, abuse and overdose. Consult with your healthcare provider and make sure you understand the risks and potential side effects of using opioids. Be sure to take the necessary steps to ensure the safe use of these medicines.
- Responsibilities – Help prevent opioid misuse and abuse by properly storing your medicine in a secure place and safely disposing of any unused or expired medicines. Through pharmacy- or law enforcement-sponsored take-back initiatives, proper disposal can make a significant difference. Remember that your healthcare provider prescribed this medicine for your use only. It is illegal for you to give them to other people.
Addressing the national opioid abuse epidemic requires bringing together stakeholders from all levels of government, the healthcare community and supply chain to provide patients and their families with information and resources to address the crisis and help prevent further harm.
Founded by the Healthcare Distribution Alliance, AAOA brings together Caregiver Action Network, Mental Health America, National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations, National Council on Patient Information and Education, and the PA Foundation to do just that. By providing educational resources for patients and their caregivers, healthcare providers and pharmacists, AAOA hopes to help communities reduce the abuse and misuse of prescription opioids and provide resources to ensure unused medicines are safely disposed of to prevent unintended consequences.
To learn more about Allied Against Opioid Abuse and find tools to help prevent opioid abuse in your community, visit www.AgainstOpioidAbuse.org.
Pledge to Pause Before You Prescribe
As the country looks to reverse the harmful trend of opioid addiction, the importance of engaging patients, raising awareness about the risks of opioid abuse and educating about safe use is critical. The PA Foundation and AAOA are working together to engage and mobilize PA students around this important issue.
The Pledge to Pause is a commitment to talking to patients and caregivers about the rights, risks and responsibilities associated with prescription opioids before prescribing.
As a future PA and prescriber, I pledge to pause to talk to my patients and their caregivers about the treatment options available for pain, and risks associated with prescription opioids, as well as their responsibility to safely store and appropriately dispose of leftover medications.
I will help combat the opioid epidemic by engaging my patients to make sure they understand their rights, risks and responsibilities associated with prescription opioids.