Part of the Solution: How Can Nurses Provide Opioid Epidemic Solutions?

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Apr 15, 2019

Apr 15, 2019 • by Rebecca Smith

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that an estimated 2 million Americans abuse opioids, with an even greater number at risk for addiction.

Nurses are literally at the front lines of the opioid epidemic in the medical field.

They can help make calls to prevent addiction in patients under their care.
As a nurse, it is extremely important to be well-informed about the use of opioid painkillers, such as Oxycontin.

As well, they should know the role they can play in preventing the abuse of these drugs.

Medical professionals of all types can work together to identify those that are at risk of addiction. Then, they can help those that need treatment.

Read on to learn how nurses, in particular, can provide opioid epidemic solutions for a better future.

How Nurses Provide Opioid Epidemic Solutions

Often times, nurses are those that spend the most time with patients over physicians and other medical staff.

This means that they generally have more opportunities to speak directly to the patient. In turn, they help doctors determine the best treatment plan considering the individual's needs.

Here are five ways that nurses can provide opioid epidemic solutions.

1. Advocate for Better Legislation 

Because nurses have an idea of what is happening on the ground level, they can better advocate for legislation that will actually have an impact.

In order to combat this epidemic, strategies that are both top-down and bottom-up need to be implemented.

2. Provide Addiction Treatment Options

A key component to preventing long-term opioid drug abuse is for nurses to offer addiction treatment options.

Addiction treatment services are important for those that have found themselves dependent on these powerful painkillers. Providing information to patients about them can make all the difference.

3. Utilize Educational Resources

Nurses can provide better care to those addicted to opioids, or those getting them prescribed, by informing themselves about the risks.

Particularly, they should know the red flags of an addict, who is the most at-risk, and when it is appropriate to use these medications in a treatment plan.

4. Get Involved in Care Plans

The more the entire care team is involved in the treatment plan, the better. Doctors can always make the final call, but it is often safer for hospitals and clinics to communicate with the entire team.

Don't be afraid to voice any concerns you may have, as lives are at stake when it comes to prescription medication abuse.

5. Listen to Patients and Families

Nurses should listen to patients and their families, and communicate their needs clearly to the rest of the care team. If they are concerned about opioids, consider other medication options.

Help Prevent Opioid Addiction

Nurses are in a unique position to advocate for patients while maintaining communication with the care team. This can help them make safer calls when it comes to prescribing opioid medications.

As well, nurses can help provide opioid epidemic solutions by getting involved in legislation, and by staying educated on the issue.

Ready to take the jump into nursing to become part of the change, and care for patients? Check out our recent article on seven tips for landing your first nursing job.