JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Clinical strategies for the primary health care professional to minimize prescription opioid abuse

Jeffrey A Gudin
Postgraduate Medicine 2012, 124 (3): 131-8
22691907
Prescription opioid analgesic therapy can be effective in managing chronic noncancer pain in appropriately selected patients. However, the risks and benefits of prescription opioids should be carefully considered when treating this patient population. A dramatic increase in opioid-related morbidity and mortality has been observed in the United States in the past decade. Therefore, health care providers must balance the treatment of chronic pain with the need to minimize the risks of opioid misuse, abuse, addiction, and diversion. Current literature suggests that most patients with chronic pain are managed at the primary care level. However, many of these practitioners are not skilled in risk assessment, stratification, and monitoring. This article reviews strategies and tools that providers may implement to help identify appropriate patients for chronic opioid therapy and recognize signs of drug-related aberrant behaviors and abuse. In addition, the potential role of abuse-deterrent, extended-release opioid formulations to reduce risk in patients and nonmedical users of opioids is introduced. Collectively, these preventative measures may effectively reduce opioid misuse, abuse, and diversion without denying adequate analgesia in appropriate patients.

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