By Nick Trego, BWC Clinical Operations Manager
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) considers opioid analgesics to be dangerous drugs with a high potential for abuse and with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.
Prior to initiating therapy with opioid analgesics, patient education surrounding the risks and benefits of these medications is essential to understanding and developing realistic expectations of treatment outcomes.
Due to the addictive nature of these medications, the Ohio BWC is also taking additional steps to prevent addiction, including collaborating with other organizations to develop fact sheets to help providers, employers and injured workers better understand the potential risks of excessive opioid use.
A few statistics show the importance of understanding the impact opioids are having in Ohio and across the United States:
- Prescription opioids are associated with more fatal overdoses than any other prescription or illegal drug including cocaine and heroin.1
- In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication, enough for every adult in the United States to have a bottle of pills.2
- Unintentional drug overdose continued to be the leading cause of injury-related death in Ohio in 2015, ahead of motor vehicle traffic crashes – a trend which began in 2007.3
- Unintentional drug overdoses caused the deaths of 3,050 Ohio residents in 2015, the highest number on record, compared to 2,531 in 2014. The number of overdose deaths increased 20.5 percent from 2014 to 2015, which is similar to the increase from 2013 to 2014.4
Increased understanding of the safety and risks associated with the use of opioids will benefit those seeking the best possible medical treatment without facing the consequences of dependence or addiction.
We invite you to review these new educational materials and share them with your colleagues, family and friends.
The fact sheets can be found on BWC’s website:
- Drug Addiction Affects All Ohioans
- If Opioids Have Not Relieved Your Chronic Pain
- Is My Pain Medication Making Me Worse?
BWC’s medical director, Dr. Stephen Woods, addressed the importance of balancing short term pain management and the longer term risk of addiction in an earlier blog post.
For more information, email Pharmacy.Benefits@bwc.state.oh.us.
1 Ohio’s Opiate Epidemic, Mental Health & Recovery Board – Erie and Ottawa Counties, Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Committee
2 CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain – United States, 2016
3, 4 2015 Ohio Drug Overdose Data: General Findings, Governor’s Cabinet Opioid Action Team