Tag: opioid

Pain Relief vs. Addiction and Overdose: Four Steps to Maintain an Appropriate Equilibrium

By Justina Igwe (Nursing Student in Nigeria at the University of Nigeria Enugu Campus)


Opioids have been one of the world’s most effective pain relievers since Friedrich Serturner of Germany extracted an opioid analgesic from opium in 1803. Extracted from opium papaver (Papaver Somiferus) a species of flowering plant that grows in all temperate regions of the world with its origin being Asia Minor, Opioids are largely used in healthcare facilities to relieve patients suffering from both acute and chronic pain.


When consumed, opioids activate the release of endorphins (the feel-good neurotransmitters) which suppresses the perception of pain and intensify the feelings of pleasure, creating a temporary yet powerful sense of well-being.

However, when the dose wears off, the patient feels depressed and wants another dose which will make them feel that sense of well-being again. (This is actually the first point toward potential addiction).

Opioids have now become a substance of concern as the world is fighting to strike a balance between their use as pain relievers and euphoriants necessitating abuse. Tragically, the CDC estimates that about one million people have died of drug overdose since 1999, of which 82.3% were opioid-involved overdose deaths involving a synthetic opioid.

As expected, reducing the burden of suffering from pain and reducing opioid addiction and overdose deaths pose a major public health challenge.

Below are four steps that can be taken to achieve that balance:

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Where’s the J&J that Managed the Tylenol Crisis?

Editor’s note: In this editorial from the desk of PPAHS’s Executive Director,  Johnson & Johnson could have taken a lead in the opioid crisis, but has chosen not to.

By Michael Wong, JD (Founder/Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety)

Recently, Johnson & Johnson (J&J), a company that “believe(s) good health is the foundation of vibrant lives, thriving communities and forward progress,” was ordered to pay $572 million by Judge Thad Balkman of Cleveland County District Court in Oklahoma. Reported The New York Times about the judgment:

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3 Ideas to Improve Patient Care

This week, the articles that we have been reading at the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety (PPAHS) discuss interesting ideas to improve patient care:

Use Artificial Intelligence to Manage Opioid Use

As the opioid crisis continues on, this article by Cami Rosso, “Using AI to Manage Opioid Use in Hospital ICUs” raises an interesting possibility – the use of artificial intelligence to manage opioid use:

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8 Signs You May Have an Opioid Addiction

Freelance writer and in recovery himself, Peter Lang discusses 8 signs that you may have an opioid addiction. To learn more and get help, please visit The Recovery Village.

Opiate addiction is a crisis in America. The proportion of the abusers of pain medication is not just alarming; it has reached critical levels. According to research, about one in every four opioid prescriptions ends up in the hands of abusers. About 35,000 people die every year from this menace. Further studies show that at least 12.5 million people abused opioids in 2015 alone. These pain-relieving medications include methadone, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, fentanyl, and morphine. Some are legal, while others are not.

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Benzodiazepines and Opioid Use May Result in Respiratory Compromise and Death

Using benzodiazepines and opioids may be a deadly combination. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 30% of opioid overdoses involve the use of benzodiazepines.

One of the commonly overlooked complications to safe opioid administration is failing to account for the additive sedation effects of non-opioid medication. In recognition of these dangers, in August 2016, the FDA issued its strongest warning about combined use of opioids and benzodiazepines and issued another caution more recently on September 20, 2017.

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Taking Fentanyl Can Kill You

Abstract: The lesson learned from the death of Michelle McNamara – taking opioids can kill you. The opioid fentanyl can cause delayed respiratory depression and tragically death, particularly when used in combination with other sedating drugs.

Michelle McNamara, the writer and wife of comedian Patton Oswalt, died unexpectedly in her sleep in April 2016. Mr. Oswalt says that her death was caused by a toxic mixture of fentanyl and other drugs. As reported by People:

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The Top 12 Patient Safety Articles for 2017

In 2017, we had many interesting patient safety articles – from the PPAHS staff, our Executive Director, guest clinicians and patient safety advocates. Our top 12 patient articles for 2017 focus on the use and management of opioids, and the tragic loss of patient lives from failure to monitor opioid use appropriately:

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Nursing Recommendations on How Capnography Improves Patient Safety

Nursing recommendations from ARIN and AORN encouraged Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre to monitor with capnography patients undergoing procedural sedation.

In a podcast with the Physician-Physician Alliance for Health Safety, Barbara McArthur, RN, BScN, CPN(C), an advanced practice nurse at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, Canada, discussed why Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre decided to monitor with capnography.

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