The opioid epidemic: information and resources for health care providers

opioidSarah Wilson, wife and mother of four, became addicted to opioid pain medications after she suffered severe injuries from getting hit by an intoxicated driver about eight years ago. She was nearly three years into her recovery from addiction to hydrocodone before anyone outside of her immediate family knew. Wilson said that people are always surprised to learn that she was an addict and that many people have a certain preconceived image that individuals who suffer from addiction are junkies. However, addiction is not uncommon. It’s estimated that 2.1 million people in the United States abused prescription opioid pain relievers in 2012 alone, according to a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report.

In response to recent research, on August 17, 2011, the Iowa Board of Medicine amended the Iowa Administrative Code 653, Chapter 11, requiring physicians to complete continuing medical education (CME) on chronic pain medication management. This administrative rule was changed in an effort to assist physicians in reducing patients’ abuse and misuse of pain medications. To assist you in learning more about this topic or meeting this CME requirement, Des Moines University offers an online two-credit course for chronic pain management. Please visit the course website to learn more and register.

The Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 permits providers who meet certain qualifications to treat opioid dependency with narcotic medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration – including buprenorphine – in treatment settings other than opioid treatment programs. The act permits qualified providers to obtain a waiver from the separate registration requirements of the Narcotic Addict Treatment Act – 1974 to treat opioid dependency with Schedule III, IV and V medications or combinations of such medications that have been approved by the FDA for that indication. Learn more about buprenorphine to treat substance use disorders.

To further assist providers, the Providers Clinical Support System for Medication-Assisted Treatment has developed free professional development opportunities. These resources include free one-on-one clinical mentorship opportunities with experts in addiction, pain and the use of medications for pain treatment. They also include free educational resources with CME credits to ensure sustained learning and guidance are available to most effectively treat Americans with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders. Learn more about the process for prescribing or dispensing buprenorphine.

Health care providers face the challenge of minimizing the potential for misuse of these important medications without impeding patients’ access to needed medical care. Ensure that you are in-the-know and doing the most good for your patients and community.

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