Collaborative Effort Launches to Reduce Opioid Abuse and Misuse

Certainly there’s no lack of information on opioid abuse and misuse, but finding educational resources all in one place can be difficult.

Enter a new national education and awareness initiative, Allied Against Opioid Abuse (AAOA), which brings together a group of stakeholders to engage health care providers, including pharmacists, and the public in education about prescription opioids.

“AAOA will provide patients and health care providers with educational tools and resources to communicate effectively about pain management and potential risks, rights, and responsibilities to ensure that prescription opioids are used safely and appropriately when they are part of the treatment regimen,” said Ray Bullman, executive director of the National Council on
Patient Information and Education (NCPIE).

NCPIE is a partner in the program, along with other organizations, includ-ing the Healthcare Dis-tribution Alliance (HDA), the Caregiver Action Network, Mental Health America, the National Alli-ance of State Pharmacy Associations, and the PA Foundation. HDA is pro-viding the initial funding to support the formation of the coalition.

“We are working with AAOA to help solve this crisis one patient–health care provider conversation at a time,” said Bullman. Pharmacists can find free resources they can use to support patient edu-cation and counseling about opioids on AAOA’s website at againstopioidabuse.org.

Mission

In an effort to reduce the abuse and misuse of prescription opioids, AAOA states that it will:

  • Build national and local partner-ships to drive awareness among key constituencies (prevention, public health, health care, etc.).
  • Provide educational resources for distribution to patients at pharmacies.
  • Convene meetings with lead-ing national industry groups and local organizations to discuss new approaches to addressing the opioid crisis.
  • Promote take-back initiatives and disposal options across the United States.

In addition to promoting these goals—and serving as a resource—AAOA also wants to raise awareness about patients’ rights, risks, and responsibilities related to their opioid prescription:

  • Rights: Patients have the right to know the full scope of pain relief options available to them, including non-opioid treatments. They should under-stand how their opioid prescription is dispensed and be aware of partial- ll options, which limit the number of tablets patients take home initially.
  • Risks: Prescription opioids carry serious risk of dependence, addiction, and overdose, especially with prolonged use. Patients should talk to their health care provider to make sure they understand the risks and potential adverse effects.
  • Responsibilities: Patients can help prevent misuse and abuse by storing their prescription opioids properly in a secure place. Patients also have the responsibility to safely dispose of any unused medication. AAOA resources will provide patients with the information they need to properly store and dispose of opioids.

AAOA also plans to support local and community-based programs that engage patients, health care providers, and the broader public health community in education and awareness activities to prevent prescription opioid abuse and misuse.

Resources for pharmacists

Some of the specific resources pharmacists can find on AAOA’s website to support patient education and counseling include 10 Things You Need to Know About Safe Disposal of Prescription Opioids and Other Medications; a state-by-state and national medicine disposal locator; FDA disposal guidelines; a safe storage of prescription opioids infographic/information sheet; and more. Pharmacists can sign up on the AAOA website to receive regular updates and to learn more.

This article was originally published in Pharmacy Today.