While prescribed opioids are effective at controlling chronic pain, some people are scared to take them for fear of addiction. A recent Four Counties Long-Term Care Palliative Network session encouraged caregivers to learn more about these medications to foster discussions with patients and family members
PETERBOROUGH, Ont. – Representatives from the Four Counties Long-Term Care Palliative Network were provided with an interactive presentation Oct. 26 on opioid prescriptions to address chronic pain. The presentation was aimed at providing the 110 attendees – including representatives from OMNI Health Care homes – with information about opioids to foster discussions with patients suffering from chronic pain and their families.
All opioids, which include medications such as morphine, hydrocodone and codeine, must be prescribed by a doctor. While they can be helpful at addressing chronic pain, some people are wary of taking opioids for fear of addiction.
In addressing the Four Counties representatives, Dr. Alex Lang, a medical adviser with Mylan, said he hoped his presentation would encourage care providers to learn more about these medications to help encourage discussion with patients and families who have concerns, so they can make better informed decisions when speaking with their doctor.
“There are patients who can benefit from opioids who have heard of all the risks and who are literally saying to their doctor, ‘no, I won’t take them, they’re too dangerous.’ But for that particular patient they might be appropriate, particularly a person who has no risk of abuse,” Dr. Lang said.
Dr. Lang underscored that opioids are not the only available option to treat pain, and other options should be looked at by doctors.
Not everyone can be prescribed opioids, including those who have risk factors of drug dependency. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health lists some of risk factors for opioid addiction on its website:
– Personal history of substance abuse, including alcohol
– Family history of substance use problems or addiction
– History of preadolescent sexual abuse
– History of psychiatric problems
While there has been much public concern about opioid abuse recently, these medications can be helpful tools for improving quality of life for chronic pain sufferers who have a low risk of dependency, Dr. Lang said.
“I hope, in terms of addressing the opioid epidemic, we don’t forget about the one out of four Canadians that are suffering with chronic pain,” he said.
The Four Counties Long-Term Care Palliative Network consists of representatives from long-term care homes in Peterborough, Haliburton and Northumberland counties, as well as the City of Kawartha Lakes. Members meet regularly to discuss issues and best practices related to palliative care.
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