Prescriber Education Campaign Helps Address National Opioid Epidemic

search-and-rescueReleased last month, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health identified alcohol and drug misuse and substance use disorders as the most pressing public health concern facing America. The release of this landmark report marks the first time a U.S. Surgeon General has dedicated a report to substance misuse and related disorders.

The report addresses alcohol, illicit drugs and prescription drug misuse, with chapters dedicated to neurobiology, prevention, treatment, recovery, health systems integration and recommendations for the future. It provides an in-depth look at the science of substance misuse and addiction, calls for a cultural shift in the way Americans talk about the issue, and recommends actions we can all take collectively to prevent and treat these conditions, and promote recovery.

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids applauds the Surgeon General’s recommendations to take a comprehensive, public health approach to addressing substance use in our society. The Surgeon General’s report is being issued at a critical time, when our country is in the throes of a national opioid addiction epidemic: between 1999 and 2014, approximately 193,000 Americans died from causes related to prescription opioids, and we know that three out of four current heroin users previously misused prescription pain relievers.

Attention was brought to the role that prescribers can play in addressing this health crisis when the Surgeon General issued a letter this past August to more than 2 million healthcare providers urging them to help turn the tide of opioid abuse problems facing the nation.

Among key actions that prescribers can take to help curb the national opioid abuse problem, the Surgeon General’s report calls for increasing prescribers’ awareness of and compliance with the most recent federal guidelines for opioid prescribing, expanding the use of evidence-based treatments and effective integration of prevention and treatment services, and reliance on the use of prescription drug monitoring programs by healthcare providers.

The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids “Search and Rescue” campaign, developed with support from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is aligned with the Surgeon General’s recommendations in its promotion of these key tools and resources. The goal of the “Search and Rescue” campaign is to help equip prescribers to be pro-active in identifying and helping patients at risk for prescription drug misuse.

An innovative social media campaign, developed by the Partnership in collaboration with health communications agency Razorfish / Health, drives to the “Search and Rescue” website at searchandrescueusa.org, where prescribers can view brief educational videos and connect with a range of vital resources, including relevant Continuing Medical Education courses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on prescribing opioid medication for chronic pain, and their state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), which provides information on patients’ recent prescription history and helps prevent “doctor shopping.”

The scope and tragic impact of today’s opioid epidemic call for a multi-pronged approach, involving parents, educators, community leaders, treatment professionals and healthcare providers. Prescribers have a vital role to play in reducing Americans’ misuse of prescription medications, especially opioids, which is why the resources provided via “Search and Rescue” are such an important part of a comprehensive solution.

The Partnership, along with the FDA, is committed to insuring that prescribers have the education, the resources and the tools they need to play their indispensable part in rescuing millions of American families – and their kids – from the pain and loss of addiction.

The Search and Rescue campaign is supported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, under grant number 5U18FD004593-04. The content is solely the responsibility of the Partnership and does not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

To learn more about the nation’s opioid epidemic, visit https://www.drugfree.org/heroin. To learn more about the Search and Rescue Campaign, visit searchandrescueusa.org.

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