Clinical| Volume 43, ISSUE 2, P106-113, March 2017

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Epidemiology of Opioid Abuse and Addiction

      Opioid addiction, such as heroin and prescription pain medication, is a growing problem in the United States and internationally. Knowledge and respect for the epidemiology of opioid abuse and addiction, its consequences, and the role of the ED prescriber and nurse in reducing the risk and sequelae of opioid abuse and addiction is critical to reduce the incidence of adverse outcomes and deaths. This article will consider briefly the historical perspectives, the epidemiology, and the causes and risk factors of opioid abuse and review select evidence-based approaches that ED providers and nurses may implement to minimize the risk of opioid abuse and addiction by reducing inappropriate prescribing of opioids, implementing stronger prescription monitoring programs, improving access to substance abuse programs, and expanding training in the recognition of overdose and access to emergency overdose treatments.
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      Jonathan Green is Director of Critical Care, Good Samaritan Hospital, Suffern, NY.