Nursing

The role of nurses in combating the opioid epidemic

Nurse Leader Insider, November 10, 2016

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It seems like every day we see new stories about the opioid epidemic and how organizations around the world are trying to solve the problem. According to the 2015 World Drug Report, an estimated 32.4 million people struggle with opioid abuse worldwide, and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that 1.9 million Americans suffer from addiction to prescription opioids.

As with many patient safety concerns, nurses are the front line against opioid abuse; they educate patients about the dangers of opioids, treat overdose patients in the ER, and work in rehab centers to help patients recover from their addiction. Nurses have first-hand experience with every stage of the crisis, so it’s only fitting that nurses are taking on leadership roles around the country to fight opioid addiction.

For instance, nurses at Boston Medical Center are responsible for administrating the opioid abuse programs in their facility, which allows the clinic to see and treat more patients. University of Massachusetts nursing students now receive training designed to diagnose addictions early and help patients find treatment.

Another nursing-driven effort is Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, where nurses help people dispose of prescription drugs safely. Nurses also participate in community-based opioid overdose prevention programs around the country, and many nurses and nurse organizations act as advocates for government policies regarding opioid abuse.
 
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