The opioid crisis in America has been declared a public health emergency. Every day, 115 Americans die from an opioid overdose and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 46 of these deaths include a prescription opioid. Right now, policymakers in Washington, DC are debating solutions to the opioid epidemic in America. A critical component of this debate is prevention: stopping addiction before it starts.
The operating room has become an inadvertent gateway to the opioid epidemic. The overwhelming majority of patients (nine in 10) are exposed to opioids to manage postsurgical pain, and those given prescriptions received an average of 85 pills each. Additionally, nearly 3 million individuals who had surgery in 2016 became persistent opioid users, continuing to take opioids three to six months after their procedure.
There are ways to address this challenge – by increasing patient access to FDA-approved, safe, and effective non-opioid options to help manage postsurgical pain while reducing or eliminating the need for opioids. Many patients are unaware that such options exist. By increasing patient and provider access to these options, we can stem the tide of the epidemic.