Opioid Dependency

How hospitals can make a difference with opioid dependency and the heroin epidemic.

The numbers are troubling. Drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, with more than 47,000 such fatalities in 2014. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic–of those 47,000 deaths, nearly 19,000 were related to prescription pain relievers and 10,600 were related to heroin, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).

Stemming this tide of opioid misuse demands action from all who touch the lives of those affected by this disease–law enforcement professionals, legislators, healthcare providers, long-term addiction rehabilitation specialists, behavioral health experts, and friends and families. And hospitals and physicians are on the front lines of the battle.

Consider the following statistics from ASAM:

  • In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, more than enough to give every American adult his or her own bottle of pills
  • Four in five new heroin users started out misusing prescription painkillers; as a consequence, the rate of heroin overdose deaths nearly quadrupled from 2000 to 2013

It’s that second data point that suggests an opportunity for hospitals to proactively mitigate this crisis. Hospitals that have developed interventional pain management practices can treat pain patients with a variety of modalities lessening the need for opioid medications. Dr. William James, founder of The Comprehensive Centers for Pain Management based in NW Ohio states, “By treating the whole patient using pain psychology, advanced techniques and a health and wellness approach you greatly decrease the likelihood that a patient will need pain medications indefinitely”.

DECA Health is a leader in development and management of pain management programs in hospitals. For more information please contact us today.