A virtual Blue Plate Research event at USU covers opioid addiction

FILE - This Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013 file photo shows pills of the painkiller hydrocodone at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. Accidental overdoses aren't the only deadly risk from using powerful prescription painkillers _ the drugs may also contribute to heart-related deaths and other fatalities, according to research published Tuesday, June 14, 2016. "As bad as people think the problem of opioid use is, it's probably worse," said Wayne Ray, the lead author and a health policy professor at Vanderbilt University's medical school. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

LOGAN – During a recent virtual Blue Plate Research event at Utah State University, Maren Voss, a health and wellness faculty member with USU extension, led a discussion on opioid addiction programs.

She said in the 1990s a public outcry demanded better pain management in the U.S.

“And patient advocacy groups started talking about the right to pain relief,” Voss explained. “There was a 1995 address to the Pain Management Society that urged the adoption of pain as the fifth vital sign, and that really caught on. They were saying that doctors needed to monitor patients’ pain and make them more comfortable.”
She said doctors eventually became aware of a growing problem with prescription opioids, and they started leveling off their prescriptions.

“Then that led to an increase in heroine use as patients who were dependent couldn’t get the medication from doctors,” Voss added. “And then, more recently, an alarming spike of synthetic opioids with fentanyl was on the streets, that has led to even more overdose deaths.”

As she led the presentation, Voss shared some of the successes of the initiative and her work, which focuses on the administration of addiction and pain management courses.

This event highlights USU extension’s HEART initiative which partners with communities to address the opioid epidemic and other public health issues.

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