U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams recently shed new light on this nation’s opioid epidemic with his report, “Facing Addiction in America: the Surgeon General’s Spotlight on Opioids.”

Even though the Department of Health and Human Services dispensed over $2 billion in grants to fight the opioid epidemic in 2017, the overdose rates continue to rise.

In 2017, there were over 131 drug overdose deaths attributed to opioids each day in the U.S. This nation’s opioid crisis is a public health threat, and the Surgeon General has provided some useful information in his report.

In addition to recommendations for individuals and families of people with an opioid use disorder, there are strategies for healthcare professionals to create change.

Surgeon General’s Recommendations for Healthcare Professionals

If you work in a health care setting, you may often feel helpless in the face of this nation’s opioid epidemic. Patients may come to you with legitimate complaints, and there may be others who exhibit drug-seeking behavior or have concurrent mental health issues.

The Surgeon General has several recommendations for health care professionals to make a difference in the current battle against opioid addiction.

  • Use a PDMP: The first recommendation is for health care providers to use a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). This can quickly indicate to a provider whether a patient is “doctor shopping,” which is when people retrieve prescription pain relievers from several different doctors.
  • Conduct Proper Assessments of Patients: When a physician wants to prescribe opioids, he or she should first conduct a thorough and proper assessment of the patient. This might include an assessment for any possible behavioral health factors. The Surgeon General also recommends that physicians follow the CDC Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. In some cases, there may be non-opioid pain management
  • Address a Substance Use Disorder with Sensitivity: When there is a patient with a substance use disorder or other SUD-related health issues, these should be treated with the same care and sensitivity as any other serious health condition.
  • Support Evidence-based Addiction Treatment: The Surgeon General recommends that health care providers support and follow the gold standard for the treatment of opioid addiction. When appropriate, a provider should become qualified to prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorder, which is an evidence-based treatment.
  • Refer Patients to Opioid Treatment Providers When Necessary: Not all addiction treatment approaches should be handled by a patient’s general practitioner. When appropriate, the Surgeon General recommends that health care professionals make referrals to providers who specialize in addiction treatment.

doctor and nurses

The Surgeon General’s report recommends that health care professionals provide or refer patients for appropriate addiction treatment service

Get Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

If you are a health care professional that treats a patient with an opioid use disorder, The Recovery Village offers evidence-based treatment, including medication-assisted therapy. If you or any of your loved ones are struggling with opioid abuse, contact The Recovery Village now to learn more about the facility’s comprehensive addiction treatment programs and how they can help you start your new life in recovery.