Opiate addiction is becoming more common. Opiates are prescribed by medical doctors and advanced healthcare providers. However, nurses can still do their part to help fight an opiate addiction.
Educate Yourself about Opiate Addiction
There are a lot of great resources that have information about opiate addiction. One of the best things that nurses can do to fight opiate addiction is to educate themselves. It is important to understand the way that opiate addiction is a disease. It can affect each patient differently.
Educate Patients and Their Family
Many patients do not realize the seriousness of opiate addiction. They also do not realize the effects that it can have on family. Additionally, many people do not realize that they are addicted to opiates. That is why it is important for nurses to talk to patients and their families about opiate addiction.
People who are properly-educated about opiate addiction can recognize the signs and get help before the problem ruins their lives. Families can also intervene if they notice that their loved one is addicted to opiates.
Discuss Alternative Pain Relief Methods
Opiates are often prescribed after an acute injury. However, there are other ways that pain can be managed. For example, musculoskeletal skeletal pain can be managed with the R.I.C.E. Method. R.I.C.E stands for rest, ice, compress and elevate. Massage therapy can also be used in order to manage pain.
Acupuncture is another pain relief method that can be used. Studies have shown that it is effective for alleviating pain. Even if a person has to use opioids in order to manage their pain, acupuncture can help them rely on them less.
Screen Patients Carefully
Nurses are often the first ones to recognize the signs of an addiction. You can use the National Institute of Drug Abuse quick screen if you suspect that your patient has an opiate addiction. A physical exam can also reveal signs of an addiction. Poor oral hygiene, traumatic lesions and advanced gum disease are some of the signs of an opiate addiction. You can refer the patient to another healthcare provider for further examination and treatment.
Nurses can do their part to curb the opiate addiction by educating themselves. You may even consider participating in an RN to MSN online degree. You can share the knowledge with the patient’s family members and friends. You can also teach patients how to manage their pain without medication. Furthermore, it is important to screen patients carefully and refer them to another healthcare provider if necessary.