Addiction and Pain Medicine Specialists Disagree on Addressing Opioid Abuse
Healthcare professionals and policymakers are struggling to come to terms with the epidemic of opioid abuse and overdose in the United States – perhaps nowhere more than here in Massachusetts, where the presence of premier medical institutions has not been able to stem the state’s record high rates of opioid-overdose deaths (which are among the worst in the U.S.).
While many assume that reducing the number of opioid prescriptions “will also reduce the quantity of drugs available for abuse and… the chance that opioid use disorder will develop in people using opioids for the first time,” a recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine notes that the evidence proving this theory is “incomplete”. Simply put, fewer prescriptions is not ‘The Answer’ to a crisis as complex as the one we find ourselves in today. Since this mainstream theory places the onus on clinicians to fix the opioid crisis, we thought it wise to hear what they believe would be most effective at changing the tides.
We polled close to 1,000 clinicians from 30+ specialties in the PlatformQ Health network, who have chosen to learn from leading medical faculty in their respective fields through our regular live medical education programs, and were interested to learn that there are several key issues beyond reducing prescriptions that clinicians think will make an impact.
Doctors place their faith in new non-addicting pain drugs and more aligned education
When asked what course of action they believe will have the most positive long-term impact, the plurality of respondents selected “increased development of and access to effective, non-addictive pain management therapies,” with 46 percent (442 votes).
“Mandatory training for all prescribers of opioids” (148 votes) and “Large-scale public addiction education campaign” (147 votes) were tied for the second-most selected solutions – each captured 15 percent of the total.
“Across-state adoption of abuse deterrent formulations such as one-week-at-a-time prescription guidelines” was the third-most selected response with 13 percent (123 votes) and “Better understanding of those at risk for opioid abuse” placed last with 10 percent (96 votes).
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