Managing Opioid Use Disorder with Medications – Nurse, Nurse Practitioner
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug overdose deaths have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. In fact, over 81,000 drug overdose deaths occurred over a 12-month time period ending in May 2020 – a 38% increase over the 12-month period through May of 2019. Synthetic opioids, specifically illicitly manufactured fentanyl, appear to be the driver behind this increase. Opioid use and associated overdoses may continue to rise as the long-term consequences of the pandemic (eg, job loss, lost relationships, anxiety, depression) become palpable. CDC recommendations for the prevention of opioid overdoses include expanded access to the life-saving opioid reversal medication naloxone, overdose prevention education efforts, and awareness of treatment options for opioid use disorder. The CDC’s Rx Awareness campaign highlights personal stories of individuals impacted by prescription opioid abuse, to shed light on this important topic, reduce the stigma, and educate the public about treatment options. Opioid use disorder (OUD) can involve misuse of opioid prescription medications, use of diverted drugs, or illicit heroin and fentanyl use. OUD is typically a chronic, relapsing illness, linked with a significantly increased risk of death.