Recently I’ve been working a part time contract position in Alabama as a one on one nurse for a special needs high school student. The full-time school nurses recently learned they soon will have to stock Naloxone (Narcan) for use on school-age children. This will be for grades 9-12 in the event of an accidental overdose of opioids. The number of kids who come to school high on prescription drugs is concerning and now a crisis.
The number of opioid addicted people continue to grow according to the CDC. The following opioids-infographic shows information regarding addiction in 2016. I have personal experience with a family member who was addicted to prescription medication. Dealing with addiction in a close member gave me a new perspective on the current epidemic.
Ways to prevent overdose
Reverse Overdose to Prevent Death
Expanded access to and use of naloxone to reverse the effects of an opioid when administered.
Naloxone can be expanded by:
- Standing orders at pharmacies
- Distribution through local, community-based organizations
- Access and use by law enforcement officials
- Training for basic emergency medical service staff on administering the drug
- The CDC has a new message: Nurses, Families, and Patients with opioid prescriptions told to carry Naloxone.
Improve Opioid Prescribing
- New guidelines to ensure patients have access to safer more effective pain treatment;
- Reducing exposure to prescription opioids where risks of opioids outweigh the benefits.
- Follow recommendations for use of opoids to treat chronic pain.
CDC published the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain to provide recommendations for prescribing opioid pain medication for patients 18 and older in primary care settings.
Prevent Opioid Use Disorder
There are a variety of ways to help reduce exposure to opioids and prevent opioid use disorder, such as:
- Prescription drug monitoring programs
- State prescription drug laws
- Formulary management strategies in insurance programs, such as prior authorization, quantity limits, and drug utilization review
- Academic detailing to educate providers about opioid prescribing guidelines and facilitating conversations with patients about the risks and benefits of pain treatment options
- Quality improvement programs in health care systems to increase implementation of recommended prescribing practices
- Patient education on the safe storage and disposal of prescription opioids
- Improve awareness and share resources about the risks of prescription opioids, and the cost of overdose on patients and families.
Treat Opioid Use Disorder
- It is crucial to expand access to evidence-based treatment,
- Medication-assisted therapy (MAT). MAT combines the use of medication (methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone) with counseling and behavioral therapies.
- Talk to your doctor to find a treatment facility.
At least 17 states and the District of Columbia allow naloxone (Narcan ) to be distributed to the public. At this time at least 10 of those states allow for third parties, such as a family member or friend of an intravenous drug user, to be prescribed it.
How do you feel about the prospect of carrying Narcan as a nurse? Would you feel comfortable administering it to someone you suspect of overdose? Do you live in an area where opioid use and addiction is prevalent?