In a perfect world, everyone lives a happy, normal life– no crime, no corruptness, no substance abuse, and so much more. Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world with people who try to fill voids in ways that bring harm to themselves and others. All across the United States death rates from opioid use is continuing to increase, that is with the exception of Oregon. This state has successfully decreased death rates as much as 25% over the last few years. So what are they doing right in order to combat this crisis? Let’s take a look at what we can learn here.

Utilizing Education
It starts with the professionals. Doctors in both medical offices and hospitals need to be aware of the key signs between patients in pain and patients seeking pain drugs to get a fix. Future doctors and students in Oregon are being taught preventative guidelines in terms of prescribing medications in order to avoid opioid abuse. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has prescribing guidelines in which students and doctors are able to follow closely.

One of the main things to learn from prescribing opioids is when they’re the best option, and when to take a different route. To best aid someone with a broken bone, an opioid prescription would work well for the short-term pain. However, for long-term pain, opioids are not as effective treatment for pain that persists.

Doctors and students must study and learn to implement these new guidelines. On average, it could take doctors up to 17 years to turn guidelines into standard clinical practice.  Oregon knew this opioid crisis couldn’t wait that long, and has had its students practicing these new guidelines since they were updated in 2016.

Tracing it Back to the Start
Back in the 1990’s, manufacturers of opioids assured doctors that this form of medication was not habit-forming. The potential for addiction was unknown, which is the explanation behind why doctors were more relaxed in prescribing opioids in the beginning. The ultimate reasoning behind opioid prescriptions was to bring patients’ pain levels back down to normal.

At this time, pain was listed as one of the vital signs that physicians needed to address when patients had high levels. Now that the American Medical Association has since dropped pain from the list as a vital sign, physicians in Oregon are reaching to alternative methods to reduce pain. Sleep, acupuncture, and physical therapy are just a few of the treatments to reduce pain.

Doctors in Oregon are going to alternative treatments first, to best serve their patients and avoid the addictive opioid method.

Overall, what we can learn from Oregon is this: educate your physicians now and seek alternative treatments. Although both of these tactics are long-term, Oregon has proven these steps to combat the opioid crisis.