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Pharmacists’ Role in Preventing Opioid Abuse

Pharmacists play a vital role in educating patients and their caregivers about prescription opioids. Allied Against Opioid Abuse (AAOA), a national initiative for education and awareness to prevent the abuse and misuse of prescription opioids, commissioned a poll and found more than 70 percent of respondents said detailed instructions from pharmacists about safe use, storage, and disposal of prescription opioids would make a meaningful difference in addressing the crisis.

Educating Patients

More than two-thirds of patients who have surgery don’t use all of their prescribed painkillers.

  • Approximately 36 percent of respondents to the AAOA poll were unaware that they were supposed to dispose of leftover prescription opioids.
  • Only 22 percent said their pharmacist or healthcare provider mentioned how to safely store or dispose of leftover prescription meds.

Pharmacists are trusted healthcare providers who can educate patients on the rights, risks, and responsibilities of taking prescription opioids.

  • Rights: Pharmacists should let their patients know about their rights to make an informed decision about their care, prescription options such as partial fill, and possible alternative treatments for pain management.
  • Risks: Know the risks of managing pain with prescription opioids, and make sure to communicate them clearly to patients.
  • Responsibilities: Patients need to be educated about ways to safely use, store, and dispose of prescription medications in order to prevent abuse and misuse.

Created by the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA), AAOA and its partners want to make sure pharmacists have the tools to help engage with patients and make a meaningful impact in reducing opioid abuse in their communities. This program provides a Toolkit, specifically for pharmacists so they can engage in conversations with their patients and healthcare provider colleagues about prescription opioids and help prevent prescription opioid abuse and misuse through education.

The AAOA Pharmacy Toolkit consists of in-store displays, social media graphics, special training, and patient handout and education guides. Learn more at www.againstopioidabuse.org. Pocket Nurse provides educational material to pharmacy and pharm tech students to learn about safely storing and tracking narcotics.

Sources:
AAOA Releases Pharmacy Toolkit
Kaiser Survey on Heroin and Opioid Epidemic

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