News in Nursing

Nursing Schools Start to Tackle the Opioid Epidemic in Their Classrooms

Nursing Schools Start to Tackle the Opioid Epidemic in Their Classrooms

You hear it all over. The United States is currently in a horrible opioid epidemic. The death toll due to drug overdoses is steadily increasing, and has been declared as one of the top leading causes of death among other big killers like heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.

The amount of drug-related deaths spiked in 2016 with a shocking increase of 9.7% from 2015. Since then the numbers have been climbing, and it's not uncommon to see another local article about a recent overdose. Accidental overdoses do not discriminate. We see millennials, Generation X, and some members of the baby boomer generation dying from their use of synthetic drugs, which includes heroin, morphine, fentanyl and prescription pain relievers.

This grave health issue is claiming more lives every year, and it skyrocketed because of the increased amount of prescriptions. Why is this becoming a big issue? Well, most patients do not understand the full extent when using opioid medication, and this misunderstanding is leading to severe addictions.

Nurses play a vital role as patient advocate, and must be involved in patents' education, as well as public education. Especially with issues like the opioid crisis. With knowledge and awareness, people will be well-informed when taking their medication to prevent complications.

Primary caregivers and nurses can also intervene when they observe that someone has a drug addiction. They can save so many lives when they are prepared to administer Naloxene to reverse the effects of a drug overdose.

The best way to prepare nurses in overdose cases is to start where they get their education. And now, with the growing crisis, more nursing schools are tackling this serious issue by adding courses on the treatment and prevention of opioid addition.

Deborah Finnell, a professor in the School of Nursing in John Hopkins University, has been pushing the addition of programs about substance abuse, mainly because there is an insufficient number of programs across the country.

She also stated that the current nursing curricula has not been in line with the world's growing health issues.  Health crises like drug and alcohol addiction actually do not have much overage in the nursing curriculum.  

In the hospital setting, nurses have a vital role in tackling the opioid epidemic. But, first, newly certified nurses need to be properly prepared.

Over the span of time new courses have been trickling in to nursing schools across the US. In certain universities, nurses can learn more about drug addiction and treatment practices.