Opioid Misuse Epidemic: Addressing Opioid Prescribing and Organization Initiatives for Holistic, Safe, and Compassionate Care

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (2016a) state that the misuse and illicit use of prescription analgesic drugs and use of heroin have skyrocketed to epidemic proportions. Former Surgeon General Vivek Murtha’s report, Facing Addiction in America (2016) notes that 12.5 million Americans use opioid pain relievers in ways other than those intended by prescription (USHHS, 2016). Notably, about 61% of the US drug overdose deaths in 2014 involved an opiate (Rudd, Seth, David, & Scholl, 2016). To address the opioid crisis requires the coordinated responses of all health care providers. Multiple disci- plines and professional nursing organizations have recommended strategies and published policy state- ments. Efforts to stem the opioid crisis include the development of provider education and dissemination of opioid prescribing guidelines, protocols for adher- ence to these guidelines, effective use of non-opioid treatment modalities for chronic pain, and initiatives to increase access to opioid addiction treatment. Nursing leadership in these initiatives must be broad based and unequivocal in order to engage all levels of the nursing workforce and to promote collaboration among organizations and agencies.