The worldwide epidemic of prescription drug abuse is largely affected by the role of nurses caring about patients. Historically, nurses were vital to combating opioid through the anticipatory guidance. Today, they also remain essential in providing health care services to those who are addicted and those who are newly prescribed opioids due to their health condition. This paper will focus on the specific role of advanced professionals and advanced practice nurses in eliminating prescription drug abuse.
Speaking of the past impact of nurses on the identified health concern, one should note the aspect of early recognition of prescription drug abuse signs. Since nurses are the key care providers who assess patients in a long-term perspective, they acted as assistants in preventing the most negative outcomes of the mentioned problem (Felicilda-Reynaldo, 2014). For example, they controlled substance abuse and misuse based on both national and local health policies and regulations.
Based on the opportunity of establishing positive relationships with patients, nurses used communication as the focal instrument to evaluate them in the context of culture, background, and specific health problem (Felicilda-Reynaldo, 2014). More to the point, advanced nurses contributed to addressing prescription drug abuse by conducting researches to specify the existing situation, analyze trends, and assume potential solutions (Manworren & Gilson, 2015). Such a multifaceted approach allowed developing the process of approaching patients encountering prescription drug abuse and those who are at risk.
Nowadays, in addition to the past impact that is discussed earlier in this paper, nurses acquire new knowledge and skills to elaborate on innovative strategies to prevent prescription opioid diversion. The study by Costello and Thompson (2015) evaluated nurses’ awareness of caring about patients receiving opioids and revealed that fewer than 50 percent of them answered to all questions.
These alarming findings pinpoint the need to provide staff training in accordance with the contemporary health needs of patients. As stated by Costello and Thompson (2015), proper patient assessment is possible only when nurses have full understanding of risks of addiction, pharmacologic management, the use of adjuvant medications, and so on. In the view of the abovementioned information, one may assume that the existing knowledge gap seems to be impeding a more positive impact of nurses on prescription drug abuse.
In order to highlight the role of nurses, Manworren and Gilson (2015) focus on modern realities and claim that not only staff training but also patient education is necessary. It is important to teach patients how to avoid the non-medical use of opioids and how to recognize the symptoms of addiction. “Nurses also teach patients to take all of their prescription antibiotics to help reduce bacterial drug resistance” (Manworren & Gilson, 2015, p. 36). Often, nurses consult with an addiction medicine specialist to ensure that they control the situation and provide patients with the most updated information regarding their health. By tracking opioid use and patient symptoms, nurses create the opportunity to identify the addiction at early stages.
To conclude, nurses play a vital role in addressing prescription drug abuse. If previously their impact was primarily associated with patient assessment, it comprises patient education and continuous monitoring in order to recognize early symptoms and prevent the addiction. Even though the great impact of nurses is evident, it still requires some improvement, and the area of prescription drug abuse points to the need to conduct additional studies.
Costello, M., & Thompson, S. (2015). Preventing opioid misuse and potential abuse: The nurse’s role in patient education. Pain Management Nursing, 16(4), 515-519.
Felicilda-Reynaldo, R. F. D. (2014). Recognizing signs of prescription drug abuse and addiction, part I. Medsurg Nursing, 23(6), 391-396.
Manworren, R. C., & Gilson, A. M. (2015). CE: Nurses’ role in preventing prescription opioid diversion. The American Journal of Nursing, 115(8), 34-40.