Improved communication will help win the opioid addiction battle

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ATLANTA (WKYT/WYMT) -- A key battle in the war against opioid addiction can be won by improving communication between prescribers and pharmacists.

That was the theme of one session earlier this week at the National Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, Georgia.

Some are behind the drug counter, while others are in front of the sick patients, but health professionals from both the prescribing and dispensing side of medicine are beginning to see they must work together to combat drug abuse.

Tuesday’s session focused on overcoming barriers that prevent prescribers and pharmacists from helping drug addicts, instead of just handing them pills that cause more damage. Presenters said to look carefully for signs of doctor shopping and refer patients to treatment clinics.

Dr. Eva Quirion is a nurse practitioner in Maine and says one of the biggest mistakes providers make is looking down on a drug addict who genuinely needs help.

“We need to treat people with unconditional loving regard. It doesn't mean you have to love that person, but that they're a human being and somebody's relative. People care about that person and so to treat them with respect is super, super important. There's a huge stigma surrounding substance use disorders,” Quirion said.

Pharmacists and prescribers say overcoming that stigma is one of their biggest obstacles.

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