Why is Opioid Education Needed?

While opioids can be very helpful to those in chronic pain, they come with many dangers.

For some patients, opioid medications can be very addictive, and for some, even lethal— especially when prescribed to patients without adequate education about their pain medications.

I have been concerned for a long time about the lack of accurate knowledge many patients have about the opioid medications they are being prescribed. I have, indeed, even seen the need for better opioid education in my own family.

Two of my own nephews have died while taking opioids!

Both of these young men meant a great deal to me. Unfortunately, I know that I am not alone in losing a loved one to opioid addiction. It seems we are now all vulnerable to such tragedies.

Even the FDA has recognizedpatient educationas a key component in helping prevent misuse and misunderstanding of pain medications. Yet, there continues to be a serious lack of adequate education for patients using opioid medications.

Unfortunately, physicians are frequently unable to meet this need. There simply is not enough time to cover this material adequately during regular office visits. The only education many patients receive about opioids is by reading the Opioid Agreement and the Informed Consent, but these documents are long, technical and boring; consequently they are:

  • Infrequently read
  • Seldom understood, and
  • Rarely remembered

Thus, patients and their families frequently fail to receive the much needed education about opioids.

In order for opioids to remain available for those that desperately need them, patients and their families MUST be better educated about their medications, as well as, all of the risks of these medications, including addiction and death.