What is pain?
Learn about acute and chronic pain
How common is pain?
The American Academy of Pain Medicine’s Facts and Figures
Prescription opioids are powerful pain-reducing medications that can help people manage pain when prescribed for the right condition and used properly. When misused or abused they can cause serious harm including addiction, overdose and death.1 Medications that fall into this category include Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Zohydro ER), Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), Morphine (Kadian, Avinza), and Codeine. Hydrocodone products are the most commonly prescribed for a variety of painful conditions. Morphine is often used before or after surgical procedures and Codeine is often prescribed for mild pain as well as for coughs and severe diarrhea.2
Opioids attach to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, stomach and other organs and block pain messages sent from the body to the brain. Taking opioids can lead to feelings of relaxation and euphoria. Taking these drugs also can result in decreased respiration rates which, in turn, can put people at risk for overdose and death.3
Prescription opioid abuse is a significant problem in the United States and in Arizona. Compared to other states, in 2012 Arizona ranked as the 12th highest for drug overdose death rates and 12th highest in prescription opioid misuse and abuse among people 12 years of age and older.4
What Can You Do as an Employer to Address this Issue?
- Help employees understand how to dispose of unused medication
- Locate the nearest medication drop-off location here:
- Utilize resources from Arizona’s Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse Initiative, a multi-sector a multi-sector approach to address the prescription drug epidemic. As an employer, if you would like to raise awareness of this issue among employees and their families, information to do this is included in strategy 4 of their toolkit.
- Make information available to employees on prevention, treatment and recovery resources
For Employers in the Healthcare Industry
If you are an employer in the healthcare industry, the following resources can assist you and your co-workers in addressing prescription opioid misuse and abuse.
- Free online CME: Safe and Effective Opioid Prescribing While Managing Acute and Chronic Pain
An online program offering two free CME credits to help Arizona DEA prescribers to incorporate into practice the 2014 Arizona Opioid Prescribing Guidelines.
- The CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain
In 2016, the CDC developed and published the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain to provide recommendations for the prescribing of opioid pain medication for patients 18 and older in primary care settings. Recommendations focus on the use of opioids in treating chronic pain (pain lasting longer than 3 months or past the time of normal tissue healing) outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care. Review the guidelines.
- Arizona Opioid Prescribing Guidelines
A voluntary, consensus set of guidelines that promote best practices for prescribing opioids for acute and chronic pain.
- Arizona’s Rx Misuse and Abuse Initiative Toolkit
Additional resources to promote responsible prescribing and dispensing policies and practices can be found in strategy 2 of this toolkit.
- Arizona’s Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program
Learn more about it and sign up.
- Is Pain Hurting Your Business? (PDF)
A public health resource for employers to help address the issue of managing pain in the workplace.
- Industrial Commission of Arizona
The Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) is the governing body for workers’ compensation in the State of Arizona. The ICA has implemented the use of evidence based medicine treatment guidelines and drug formulary for management of chronic pain and use of opioids for all stages of pain management for all Arizona injured wokers effective October 1, 2016.
- Never Only Opioids
A policy brief from the Pain Action Alliance to Implement a National Strategy (PAINS) in collaboration with the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care (ACCAHC) and the Center for Practical Bioethics. Provides information on early integration of non-pharmacological approaches in the treatment of patients with pain. Provides specific information about the various types of non-pharmacological approaches to ‘transforming the way pain is perceived, judged and treated.’ Read more.
- National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
Provides information, resources and research on pain management and complementary and alternative medicine.
- The National Pain Strategy
In 2016, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a National Pain Strategy which outlines the federal government’s first coordinated plan for reducing the burden of chronic pain.
- The Institute of Medicine Report — Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research
In this report, the IOM offers a blueprint for action in transforming prevention, care, education, and research, with the goal of providing relief for people with pain in America.
- American Pain Association Resource Guide to Chronic Pain Treatment
Provides a consumer guide to pain medications & treatments in both PDF and video formats.
The Prescription Opioid Epidemic and Efforts to Address the Issue