A series of physician-training sessions aimed at reducing the amount of opioids prescribed to patients who may go on to become addicted will kick off in Bedford in November.
Overprescribing by health care providers is one of the leading causes of opioid addiction. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 45 percent of heroin users are also addicted to prescription painkillers.
A CDC report issued last year found that New Hampshire providers are among the nation’s most prolific prescribers of long-acting painkillers such as oxycodone and fentanyl, which are highly addictive. The study ranked the Granite State third, behind Maine and Delaware, for per-capita prescriptions of the drugs.
As the state struggles with an alarming rise in heroin and opioid abuse, educating physicians, nurses and pharmacists on best prescribing practices was identified as a key goal by the state’s so-called “drug czar,” Jack Wozmak.
In a recent interview with NHPR, Wozmak said the educational sessions – one of 22 recommendations issued in July by Gov. Maggie Hassan’s office - will be made available to every provider in the state.
“We’ve got now 12,000 prescribers who need to be exposed to new information about the responsible use of opioids, particularly with respect to the management of chronic pain,” he said. “That is simply training and education that needs to take place.”
The half-day session, scheduled for Nov. 13, will be led by experts from Boston University School of Medicine. The program, known as SCOPE of Pain, will cover when prescription opioids are appropriate, assessing patients’ risk of addiction and monitoring the harm and benefits of opioid use in individual patients.
More than than 25,000 clinicians in 16 states have received the training, according to a statement from Hassan’s office.
For more information and to register for the session, visit https://www.catholicmedicalcenter.org/opiateeducation/.