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Opioid Education Lags as Abuse Climbs
Date:10/18/2010

ROCKLIN, Calif., Oct. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For some people with ongoing or chronic pain, opioids (medications such as oxycodone or hydrocodone) can make the difference between disability and the ability to function at near-normal levels.  For those with acute pain, such as pain after surgery or injury, sound pain management with opioids can speed healing and recovery.

Yet opioids are powerful medications and carry risks when they are not used properly. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of U.S. poisoning deaths involving any opioid analgesic (e.g., oxycodone, methadone, or hydrocodone) more than tripled from 1999 to 2007, from 4,041 to 14,459, accounting for 36% of the 40,059 total poisoning deaths in 2007.  Opioid poisoning now causes more deaths than either heroin or cocaine.  

Those who use opioids properly, under a prescriber's care, need to understand how to take, store, and dispose of their medications to keep themselves safe and keep their medications out of the hands of potential abusers.  Yet a recent survey conducted by the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) indicates that relatively few of those receiving opioid prescriptions are given sufficient education about the drugs to ensure safe use.  

Use of Opioid Agreements

Only 28% of patients were asked to sign an opioid agreement.  Opioid agreements explain the risks and responsibilities involved in using opioids. They set the ground rules, facilitate patient counseling on expected benefits and side effects, explain safe storage and disposal, and are meant to protect both the patient and prescriber.  Of those asked to sign one, 10% received no counseling and 45% had less than 15 minutes to discuss it with the health care professional. 

Using a Single Pharmacy

Using a single pharmacy for all prescriptions is a good way to ensure that a new medicati
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SOURCE American Chronic Pain Association
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