The opioid epidemic is a crisis that impacts locally, nationally, and globally. There are millions that are struggling with this chronic disease. According to the DSMV-5, opioid dependence can be defined as a problematic pattern of opioid use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, along with other criteria for a period of 12 months or more.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine reports that drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States with a total of roughly 52,404 fatal drug overdoses in 2015. In addition, The American Society of Addiction Medicine also reports that two million Americans 12 and older were addicted to opioids involving opioid prescription pain relivers (oxycodone, oxycontin, and tramadol) and 591,000 had an opioid addiction with heroin. The World Health Organization, reports 13.5 million people use opioids and 9.2 million use heroin. Due to the shortage of white heroin, fentanyl, carfentanyl, benzodiazepines, and cocaine are being added to heroin, which ensures maximum potency, resulting in death. First responders are resuscitating these individuals and they are requiring more Narcan than the required dose.
Nurse practitioners (NPs) can assist with the opioid epidemic by treating pain according to the guidelines, random drug screenings, pain assessment tools, prescribing naloxone for every household, and most importantly explaining the risks and benefits to the patient. NPs should be aware of the drug seeking behavior and be able to help with resources for the addicted client. Advanced practice nurses can also assist in the opioid epidemic by attending Narcan training classes, continuing education for addiction medicine, enrolling in the three-part suboxone training, and applying for DATA waiver to prescribe suboxone.
Let's join the fight to combat opioid dependence. Get your waiver today.