The Problem with Opioids


Whilst opioids have assisted tremendously in relieving pain in those with pain in terminal illness or those with acute pain, there is increasing misuse of pharmaceutical opioids resulting in rising accidental deaths and growing social and economic harm globally. There are 13 opioids available for use in Australia, the most commonly prescribed include codeine, oxycodone, and tramadol.

Over the past 25 years there has been a four-fold increase in the number of prescribed opioids per head of population and there are a number of theories suggested as to why.

This module discusses the risks associated with the over prescribing of opioids and the current research indicating that opioids are being prescribed in circumstances where the evidence suggests they will not be useful in pain management.

This module is aimed at Aboriginal health workers and practitioners, nurses, social and emotional wellbeing team members and doctors. It raises important issues about the public health concerns related to opioid misuse.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • Understand the risks associated with opioid misuse.
  • List the individual risk factors for opioid misuse.
  • Identify some of the most appropriate measures that can be taken to curb opioid misuse in Australia.

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