Safe Opioid Use

Information for Patient and Families on Safe Opioid Use

The opioid epidemic is a crisis that impacts all communities and demographic groups. The CSA supports ensuring that patients who truly need opioids to treat their pain have appropriate access, while we work to expand knowledge about non-opioid medications, techniques, and resources available to the medical community and patients for optimal pain control. Physician anesthesiologists direct pain management during and after surgery and are on the front lines of fighting the opioid epidemic. CSA members are experts at utilizing non-opioid pain medicine options, including interventional procedures.

Acute pain: Treatment for short-term pain must be focused on short-term management.

  • Opioids can play an important role after surgery or trauma but should be balanced with non-opioid pharmacologic therapy and regional nerve blocks where appropriate.
  • When acute pain necessitates the use of opioid pain medication, patients must be aware that they should only take what is needed for short-term pain, and then properly dispose of any remaining pills.

Chronic pain: Long-term pain can be managed with a variety of interventional pain medicine options.

  • More than 100 million Americans live with chronic pain. For these patients, clinicians must carefully balance access to necessary medications with a systemic approach to minimize the potential for opioid abuse.
  • There are other non-drug treatments available (behavioral therapy, exercise, acupuncture, chiropractic care, etc.) that should be covered by health insurance plans. These treatments deliver effective results while protecting the patient from the risks of excessive opioid use.

Pediatric pain: There is a growing emphasis on non-pharmacological treatments for children with chronic pain.

  • Options include physical therapy, medical hypnosis, lifestyle changes, pain psychology, bio-feedback (software that teaches children to use their minds to overcome pain), and mind/body techniques to promote relaxation.
  • Pain medicine for children involves teaching young patients and their families how to manage pain safely, even in chronic conditions, in order to avoid dependence on opioids and achieve better long-term outcomes.

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