The last week in January is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, a health observance aimed at spreading awareness of drug and alcohol misuse, especially among adolescents. This year, awareness efforts include a strong emphasis on the unsafe use of opioids and other prescription drugs in the United States.
Prescription drug misuse can be defined as the use of medications in ways or amounts other than intended by a doctor, by someone other than for whom it is prescribed, or for the experience or feeling it causes. Harm, including death, from opioids has risen in recent years to the level of a national public health crisis.
Opioid Misuse Facts
• According to new statistics published in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 11.5 million people aged 12 and over misused opioids in 2016
• In 2015, there were 52,404 overdose deaths in the US, with 33,091 (63.1%) of those deaths involving an opioid
• The NSDUH estimates that more than 140 Americans die each day from a drug overdose
• Adolescents are especially vulnerable to drug misuse. In 2015, 276,000 adolescents were current nonmedical users of pain relievers, with 122,000 reporting having an addiction to these drugs
In response to this national epidemic, Alliant has joined in the concerted effort to reduce the impact of opioid misuse on families and communities. As the Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) for Georgia and North Carolina, Alliant has begun work on the following special innovation projects (SIPs) aimed at the opioid crisis and awarded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS):
• The first SIP entitled, Improving Care Outcomes for Medicare Beneficiaries with Mental Illness and Opioid Use, focuses on the implementation of a targeted, community-wide education and engagement program. The goal of this project is to achieve a 25 percent reduction in unnecessary opioid prescribing by participating emergency departments to patients with co-occurring mental illness and opioid use, and to decrease ED and hospital utilization for the same population by 25 percent.
This project will utilize the Whole Health Action Management™ program and peer support group model to encourage increased resiliency, wellness, and self-managed health for people with mental illness and long-term opioid use. In addition, education will be provided to emergency department prescribers. Peer Support Specialists will work with hospital case management staff to develop an outreach plan for patients, and a Learning and Action Network (LAN) will be established to share insights with a wider audience.
• The second project entitled, Engaging Patients and Family in Opioid Safety at the Pharmacy, supports pharmacists in counseling patients to understand opioid risks and to expand access to the opioid-reversal agent naloxone under the state’s standing order protocol. Through the initiative, training programs for participating pharmacies to help identify high-risk opioid prescription patterns and to dispense naloxone will be developed.
“The opioid epidemic is a critical issue for the patient population we serve,” said Alliant Quality CEO and President Dr. Dennis White. “We are committed to supporting communities in Georgia and North Carolina to enhance patient safety and well-being, and the way we treat pain.”
For more information on how we are supporting communities in Georgia and North Carolina in the fight against opioid misuse, please visit the Alliant Quality website. To learn more about National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, click here.