Opioid prescribing puts children and young adults in jeopardy.
Prescription opioids are hurting the most vulnerable among us.
As a provider, you play a key role in reducing the number of prescription opioids in Delaware. We know that many of these medications are unused and fall into the hands of others in the household — in particular, teens and children. For that reason, talking to parents about the safe disposal of drugs is critical. Statistics also tell us that children and young adults are being prescribed opioids for pain relief after surgery, a traumatic event, or dental procedures. It’s important for you to consider non-pharmaceutical alternative pain medications and therapies first. With your help, we can increase awareness of the risks of opioid use and make prescribing practices safer.
Evaluating pain in younger patients.
Since not every patient is able to articulate their level of pain, health care providers can have difficulty adequately assessing it. Compared with the adult population, children often struggle to explain the level of pain they are experiencing. This evaluation is a key factor in determining whether a child needs a prescription for pain medication. Although over-the-counter NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) should always be the first recommendation for pain management, an effective pain assessment should be the prerequisite for determining if a prescription for opioids is necessary.
Making the right prescribing decisions.
Each provider’s top priority should be to decrease opioid prescribing for youth and young adults. When opioids are needed, review safe prescribing practices and use the decision tree we’ve provided below. Be aware of the risks of misuse, addiction and overdose — and make patients and their families fully aware of those risks. Use the tools we have provided to guide your practice and to educate patients. Check with the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PMP) to monitor your own prescribing behavior and to stay aware of any prescription misuse or abuse by your patients.
Arming parents with the information they need.
Decisions about health care can be confusing for parents, especially when it comes to understanding what can happen if their child is prescribed certain medications. Parents should be made aware of the considerable risks involved with prescription opioids. They should also know how to spot signs of addiction or abuse. This downloadable Parent Talk Kit can help. It includes:
- Facts About Opioid Abuse and Misuse Among Youth and Young Adults
- Prescription Opioid Side Effects
- Risks of Prescription Opioids
- Alternative Pain Medications and Therapies
- How to Know If Your Child Has an Addiction Problem
- Signs of Addiction
- How to Properly Dispose of Prescription Medications
- List of Prescription Drop Boxes in Delaware