Posted By Arnav Mathur On February 8, 2022

Opioid Abuse Prevention in Chronic Pain Patients

Opioid abuse prevention in patients with chronic pain has been an issue for many years. Some effective strategies have been found to lower the risk of patients over-using opioids during pain management, however. We’ve outlined some of the most effective strategies to help you prevent substance abuse of opioids by your own chronic pain patients. 

1. Assess Risk Factors

Ask your patients about their general physical and mental health as one strategy for opioid abuse prevention. Ask them about alcohol consumption, past or current drug abuse, trauma they have had or are currently experiencing, any other medical issues, and anything else that can be a risk factor to make them more susceptible to using their pain medication for coping purposes. An EHR can help you screen risk factors for abuse with clinical assessment tools.

2. Constantly Monitor Opioid Prescription Use

Frequently check in on your patient and ask them how much of their prescription they’ve been using, and how they have been feeling since they’ve started using it. Keep track of how often they are asking for prescription refills. 

Monitor your patients’ prescriptions with the help of your EHR. Opioid abuse prevention requires making sure your patients are not getting prescriptions for the same medications filled elsewhere. Use your EHR to connect to drug monitoring programs. You can also use an EHR to set limits on controlled substance prescriptions, improve patient education about risk factors for abuse, and to send follow up messages to your patients.

3. Prescribe a lesser amount of Opioid Medications

This method for opioid abuse prevention may seem a bit contradictory. Here’s why it is not. When a patient is prescribed less of a drug, they will be less likely to get addicted or overdose due to the fact that there is not a lot of that drug to overuse in the first place. There will often be less usage for the patient, which may end up with them using it more safely. This method allows patients to be more cautious with their usage so that you as a clinician can worry less about overdose and substance abuse by limiting medications.

4. Prescribe Alternative Therapies

Something else you can do is suggest your patient to engage in physical therapy, which can help ease their body over time, without or without having to use prescription drugs. 

Another alternative is to refer them to a behavioral health specialist. They can help your patient cope with physical pain via behavioral health treatment. The two are related because behavioral health treatment helps the patient avoid depression, social anxiety, and general mental health issues. When someone’s mind is in the right state, they feel that their body can get to the right state as well. 

How these Prevention Strategies Help both You and Your Patients

These strategies for opioid abuse prevention can help you reduce the risk of having one of your patients overusing a prescription drug. You can reduce the risk of patient overdose and your own risk of a lawsuit due to overdose. 

A patient who is suffering from chronic pain will also heal better if they can avoid becoming addicted to a substance meant for pain relief. This reduces their patient visits, costs, and the overall burden on the healthcare system.

Careful strategies in opioid prescribing can help patients heal without any of the negative consequences to your patients or yourself as a clinician.

About Patagonia Health

Patagonia Health is a living Electronic Health Record (EHR) software designed to meet the complex needs and desired health outcomes of Public Health and Behavioral Health organizations. Our federally certified, easy-to-learn platform includes integrated practice management and billing software so you get one end-to-end solution. Employee-owned and organically grown, our mission is to support your business with software and service that allows you to provide your patients with the care they deserve. If you’d like more information about our solutions, contact us today.

About Arnav Mathur

Arnav Mathur is a Marketing Associate at Patagonia Health. He conducts market research regarding electronic health records and reaches out to clinics across the United States to see what Patagonia Health can provide for them. He also writes content for public and behavioral health while combining his business skill sets and customer focus to help push healthcare IT forward.