Bob Twillman, Executive Director of the Academy of Integrative Pain Management (formerly the American Academy of Pain Management), and Catherine Brunson from CADCA’s National Coalition Institute, presented a workshop on July 20 in Las Vegas at CADCA’s Mid Year Training Institute entitled, Prescribing Some Solutions to Prescription Pain Medicine Abuse. Hundreds of participants representing substance abuse, mental health, law enforcement, justice, research, prevention, faith, and other communities participated in this training session. The session was designed to highlight the need for a balanced approach to preventing prescription medicine abuse, so that these medicines remain available as needed for people with pain, while simultaneously minimizing their availability for misuse and abuse.
Dr. Twillman highlighted the challenge of trying to effectively manage two public health problems: Prescription drug abuse and chronic pain. He talked about the need for medical professionals and coalitions to come to a mutual understanding that will enable them to protect both the more than 100 million Americans who suffer with chronic pain and the 12.5 million people who abuse prescription pain medications each year, and gave examples of how this need plays out in the arenas of pain management guidelines, excessive prescribing for acute pain, prescription drug monitoring programs, abuse-deterrent opioids, and naloxone availability. Ms. Brunson then engaged the audience in discussion and exercises designed to help them identify strategies for involving medical professionals in their prevention coalition work at home.
After the session, participants expressed gratitude for gaining a better understanding of the issues, especially in terms of seeing how some well-intentioned efforts to decrease prescription medication abuse and related deaths can adversely impact people with life-changing chronic conditions. Many expressed eagerness to approach their communities’ medical professionals after they returned home, and hope that their approaches will meet with success.