Many do not realize the extent of the opioid crisis and how it affects the healthcare industry. From dispatchers to the doctors, the resources that the healthcare system has is continuously drained steadily by those that suffer because of their addiction.

Without realizing it, the effects of the opioid crisis on our healthcare is catastrophic. Instead, of handling other emergency situations, time and money are spent stabilizing overdose patients and taking them to the hospital. Emergency rooms are becoming limited, and insurance rates will rise to cover the cost of used medical resources. Emergency resource funds are feeling the strain from over taxation and increased amount of calls for overdose accidents.

If we had taken a preventable step in prescribing opioids to patients, time and money could be saved. What can be done to prevent patients from becoming addicted to opiates?

Increased Training

One step is to increase training for doctors and nurses and how to spot the symptoms of opioid addiction. This doesn’t have to just pertain to doctors and nurses, either. Time should be taken to talk to the patient’s families and make them aware of what to look out for. The family is going to be one of the first lines of defense to prevent the patient from becoming addicted. Educate them on the long-term effects of using opioids.

Screen Patients

As a doctor, you are going to be the first preventative step to lower opioid addiction cases. When speaking to your patients, screen them for conditions that could worsen due to the use of opioids, that could include heart failure and sleep apnea. If they are not a good fit because of an already existing condition, then there needs to be a discussion for alternative treatment.

Reevaluate Patients

When prescribing medication, it is important to reevaluate why the patient was prescribed the opioid in the first place. If they no longer require the medication, then they can be prescribed an alternative medication that will work for them.

Watching How You Prescribe

In the end, some of your patients may need to be prescribed medication to deal with their chronic pain. Look for alternative medications that they can be given that are nonopioids to deal with it. If they must be given an opioid, then give them the lowest amount possible to effectively deal with their pain.

After The Fact Opioid Treatment

Ideally, a patient will come off of using opioids when they do ensure that they are aware of the side effects of what can occur moving forward. Begin to have the conversation about opioid therapy in order to give them the best chance to not deal with the aftereffects of long-term opioid use.

Duane Boise is the CEO of MMJIH, an innovative company looking to service unmet medical needs in the community.