The difficult choices: Managing chronic pain while avoiding opioid abuse

Rather than being considered a miracle pill that magically takes away pain, prescription opioids are increasingly being seen as a precursor to heroin addiction and the cause of potentially deadly overdoses themselves. However, select patients do still benefit from the use of opioids in the management of chronic pain. The trick, for any prescriber, is to identify those patients who are appropriate for opioid management and to provide that therapy safely.

The first step, says Christopher J. Burnett, MD, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at the Texas A&M College of Medicine and director of the Baylor Scott & White Health’s Temple Pain Clinic, is to follow the guidelines the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released last year. “The CDC guidelines, which outline when to prescribe these drugs and provide guidance for how to do so safely, are a good starting point for providers caring for chronic pain patients,” Burnett said.

Full story of managing chronic pain and opioid abuse at Science Daily

Presurgical Program Aims to Reduce Pain and Opioid Use After Surgery

Researchers at Stanford University are studying a pre-surgical online program that is designed to help patients better manage pain and reduce the use of opioid painkillers after surgery.

The program, called “My Surgical Success,” helps patients develop a personalized pain-management plan to control the anxiety associated with anticipating surgical pain. The program teaches patients to dampen the pain processing in their nervous system, so they have more control over how much pain is impacting them and how much medicine they need to manage their post-surgical pain.

Full story of pre-surgical online program to reduce opioid use at drugfree.org

States Consider Requiring Mandatory Opioid Abuse Education in Public Schools

Some states are considering requiring mandatory opioid abuse education in public schools, according to The Washington Post.

Ohio is requiring opioid education in kindergarten through twelfth grade. The Michigan legislature is considering a similar program. The Michigan bill states, “The model program of instruction adopted or developed by the department shall include at least instruction on the prescription drug epidemic and the connection between prescription opioid drug abuse and addiction to other drugs.”

Full story of mandatory opioid abuse education in schools at drugfree.org

More Schools Stocking Naloxone in Response to Heroin Epidemic

A growing number of schools across the country are stocking the opioid overdose antidote naloxone in response to the heroin epidemic, The New York Times reports.

Schools in Massachusetts, Kentucky, Connecticut and New Mexico have naloxone for emergency use. New York State provides naloxone for free to schools, and almost 250 schools in Pennsylvania have received a free supply. In Rhode Island, all middle schools and high schools must have naloxone on the premises.

Full story of schools stocking up on Naloxone at drugfree.org

Opioid Use Among Teens Decreasing, Studies Suggest

Opioid use is declining among high school seniors, a new study suggests.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, looked at prescription opioid use nationwide among high school seniors from 1976 to 2015. Teens were asked whether a doctor had ever prescribed them opioids, and how often they had taken prescription opioids without a doctor’s instruction.

About one-fourth of seniors said they had used opioids at least once for any reason, NPR reports. The study found opioid use in this age group rose in the 1980s, decreased in the 1990s and increased in the early 2000s, before dropping again starting in 2013.

Full story of teen opioid use decreasing at drugfree.org