With the help of an industry coalition, associations are making it clear that the only option to fight acute pain is not taking an opioid that carries a risk of addiction.
Patients may expect to go to the doctor’s office and get a prescription to ease their pain, but in the wake of the opioid crisis, the medical field has increasingly focused on pushing alternative options for medications.
And one of the key ways they’re doing that is with help from associations. Voices for Non-Opioid Choices, a coalition that includes a number of associations, advocates for solutions to pain management that don’t involve the powerful drugs, which the group notes can often lead to addiction.
“Voices and our partners believe that curbing the U.S. opioid epidemic requires systemic change—by individuals, providers and in communities,” the coalition says on its website. “We can have a meaningful impact on the opioid epidemic with simple steps including by ensuring that all patients have access to safe and effective non-opioid approaches to managing acute pain.”
With more than 30 members—including the American Nurses Association, the American Psychological Association, and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, among others—an opioid-free approach to pain management has found wide support within the medical and health field.
Among other things, the coalition has actively advocated for legislation to encourage patient and provider access to non-opioid solutions for pain management, particularly to those who have surgery.
“Any plan to improve health care in the United States must incorporate ways to address this public health emergency, including by preventing opioid addiction before it starts,” wrote the group’s executive director, Chris Fox, in an op-ed for The Hill last fall. “One effective prevention strategy is to become better, more responsible stewards of opioids.”
Meanwhile, some of the associations involved have focused their efforts on the grassroots level. For example, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, a group that supports community coalitions in the fight against drug use, recently gave a grant to a local nonprofit, New York’s Rockville Centre Coalition for Youth Works, to make the public aware of the dangers of opioid use. Another local group, New Jersey’s Hunterdon County Safe Communities Coalition, recently received a similar grant, one of 18 across the country.
“We know that these alternatives such as physical therapies, and other non-opioid products really do assist in long-term recovery and for better outcomes,” said Lesley Gabel, the project director of the coalition, in comments to New Jersey 101.5.