The efforts to curb prescription opioid abuse cannot stop at monitoring programs. Doctors need to be educated on how to spot signs of addiction. Screening patients for addiction will help doctors identify and refer patients to the proper services that can help them break the cycle of addiction. What’s more, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new prescribing guidelines for primary care physicians treating chronic pain, according to U.S. News & World Report. The guidelines recommend that doctors use opioid narcotics for people with:
- End-of-Life or Palliative Care
- Serious Illnesses
"It's a way to find out what level of opioids the patient might already be on," said Becky Vaughn, vice president of addictions at the National Council for Behavioral Health, who is familiar with the guidelines. "If someone already has a level of the drug when they come in to the doctor, then that obviously needs to be taken into account before a patient is given the medication."
While the agency guidelines, if implemented, are likely to be effective, physicians are not required to heed the recommendations. Hopefully, primary care physicians will get on board, considering that they are on the front line of this insidious epidemic.