Introduction: Pain-including acute or persistent acute pain-is a common condition that is increasingly being treated with opioids in the United States. The acute pain treatment setting may represent a key target for addressing the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse occurring hand in hand with the rise in opioid prescribing. Balancing the needs of pain treatment with abuse prevention can be challenging for clinicians.
Methods: This article identified efforts to balance opioid abuse risks with opioid availability through the extensive experience of the author in this field. In addition, PubMed literature searches using terms such as "prescription opioid abuse", "abuse-deterrent opioids", and "tamper-resistant opioids"; and inspection of the bibliographies of relevant articles were used to identify relevant sources.
Results: These multifaceted efforts have included: improving assessment of patient risk for drug misuse, abuse, or diversion; funding of and encouraging referral to addiction treatment programs; access to and widespread use of prescription monitoring programs (PMPs); public knowledge of prescription opioid abuse; proper storage of opioid medications; and development of new formulations designed to resist tampering and deter abuse. This review discusses the problem of prescription opioid abuse and strategies to minimize risk within the context of acute pain treatment, and explores the potential role of tamper-resistant opioid formulations and other abuse deterrence strategies in the area of acute or persistent acute pain management.
Conclusion: In order to stem the tide of prescription opioid abuse and preserve the availability of opioids as a much needed analgesic option, a multifaceted approach that includes tamper-resistant opioid formulations-for chronic or acute pain-along with strategies such as improved patient risk assessment, funding for and referral to addiction treatment programs, greater use of PMPs, and raised awareness of prescription opioid abuse is needed.