Opiates have been around for centuries, so why are they now causing a crisis? When pain was named the fifth vital sign and doctors were held accountable for treating pain, opiates worked well initially.
However, as the years went on, it was clear they had an unknown side effect: substance use disorder, commonly referred to as addiction. It can affect anyone and even those you’d least expect.
Mercy and its providers are working to address the opioid epidemic by setting specific guidelines for practitioners with an individualized approach for each patient with shared decision making. In addition, treating pain with non-pharmacological options such as physical therapy, massage, accupuncture and other alternatives.
Preventing diversion of medication – and resultant prescription drug abuse – is also of the utmost importance. There are resources available for each community for drug drop off locations for unused prescriptions and information on how to properly dispose of medications in the trash (in coffee grounds or cat litter).
There are two National Prescription Drug Take Back days each year, but unused prescription drugs can be turned in at any time. To find a location near you, visit takebackday.dea.gov.