Proactive Feedback to Prescription Opioid Abuse

Proactive Feedback to Prescription Opioid Abuse

Opioids are very powerful pain relievers, but are also very addictive. They work by binding to a receptor in the central nervous system called the opioid receptor. When they act as analgesics, or cause euphoria, or have a sedating effect, they create a strong feeling that is perceived as positive or pleasurable. That is how addiction starts. It’s very subtle.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US. In just one year, 2012-2013, the number of deaths from heroin overdoses jumped 39%. There were more than 47,000 lethal drug overdoses in 2014, and over 40% of these were related to opioids; nearly 19,000 related to prescription pain relievers, and another 10,574 related to heroin. Addiction to opioids is now responsible for more deaths than road fatalities, and it is the leading cause of injury deaths here in the US, where it has reached epidemic proportions.

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The rampant use of opioids as first line treatment for pain needs to be replaced with a more sensitive and strategic use of the full gamut of pain management tools. Education, both of physicians and the public, is required for this to be possible.

Yesterday, President Obama spoke at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit, publically calling attention to the crisis of opioid use and abuse in the US. The FDA is partnering with a number of other government agencies, and with a number of medical schools across the US, to implement significant changes that it hopes will bring this epidemic under control. They have recently called for tougher guidelines on how opioids are approved, labeled, and prescribed, including the addition of more detailed safety labeling. They are supporting the increased use of drugs designed to help opioid addicted people quit, such as naloxone and buprenorphine. They are encouraging the development of more abuse deterrent forms of opioids. A number of medical schools across the US will work to better educate the medical community on pain management options and on opioid prescribing, so that these potent and addictive drugs are not considered first line therapy as frequently as they have been. In concert with that, they are encouraging the use of alternative treatments for pain management as first line therapy.

For those who are already dealing with an opioid addiction, treatment is vital. Recovery Services is the largest and most effective addiction treatment organization in New Mexico. We want to help. Please contact us if you, or a loved one, are addicted to opioids.


  1. White House, Office of the Press Secretary, March, 29, 2016. Obama Administration Announces Additional Actions to Address the Prescription Opioid Abuse and Heroin Epidemic


  1. Califf RM1, Woodcock J, Ostroff S. A Proactive Response to Prescription Opioid Abuse. N Engl J Med. 2016 Feb 4. [Epub ahead of print]
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