Helpful ways to promote safe prescription drug use with Know Your Script
SALT LAKE CITY — Between 2017-2020, Intermountain Healthcare has been successful in reducing opioids by 9.5 million fewer pills and reducing benzodiazepine and opioid co-prescribing by 49%. All the while, finding ways to promote safe prescription drug use for Utahns within our state.
According to Kim Compagni, AVP Pain Management Services at Intermountain Healthcare, we still have a lot of work to do.
Fortunately, there are multiple ways we can all help ensure that we promote safe prescription drug use.
Talk to your health care provider
One of the easiest ways to promote safe prescription drug use is just by having a conversation with our health care provider.
“Many times pharmacists are the most approachable health care profession. You can just stop in at your local pharmacy and just ask questions,” says Compagni. “It’s a great way to even just approach a pharmacist that you don’t normally see for your prescriptions.”
Compagni also advises to not be afraid to ask any questions. Especially if it is something that relates to your health care.
“We’re health care professionals. We love to talk to patients about their health care. [Specifically], what can we do to help improve it and help to answer their questions,” she said. “On any subject, not just pain management. Please feel free to utilize those resources.”
Even if you have questions outside of your appointment, you can always call your provider if you do have any follow-up questions after your appointment.
“We want to empower patients to make sure that they’re asking those questions when they come to light,” Compagni says.
Look into alternatives for pain management
For many Utahns, pain management might be so severe that opioids are the most reasonable option. For others, you might be able to find relief with over-the-counter alternatives according to Compagni.
According to Compagni, finding the right alternatives can be as easy as gauging your pain level with your provider. Knowing the right questions to ask can have a significant impact on properly treating your pain.
“Are there alternatives for me over the counter that I can start with first? Such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen or Aleve,” says Compagni. “Also, could Tylenol, which is an acetaminophen, could that be something that’s helpful for me?”
Compagni also says that it may even be possible to treat existing pain just by rotating Ibuprofen and Tylenol.
“Many times, by combining those two medications and taking them routinely … we can reduce a lot of our pain without having to escalate into opioids,” she says.
Be aware of the potential dangers surrounding opioids
Utah’s role in the opioid epidemic is unique according to Compagni. Utah is seeing a rise in synthetic opioid overdoses. However, prescription opioid prescribing is still the leading cause of opioid overdose deaths. One way that providers are finding ways to promote safe prescription drug use is by decreasing filled prescriptions.
“We’ve seen a decrease in the number of opioid prescriptions filled per day in Utah from 7000 to 5500 in 3 years,” says Compagni.
And while organizations such as Intermountain Healthcare and programs like Know Your Script are making significant progress towards ending the opioid crisis, there is still a lot of work to be done according to Compagni.
“Our hope is to continue moving the needle through reduction of prescriptions written and filled by doctors by encouraging patients to talk to their doctors,” says Compagni. “While we’ve seen significant results, there is still a lot of work to be done to keep patients safe.”
Find out more information on ways to promote safe prescription drug use with Project Recovery
For more information on ways to avoid becoming physically dependent on opioids, you can visit Project Recovery on Facebook, KSL TV, or Know Your Script. To hear more from Casey Scott and Dr. Matt Woolley, you can subscribe to the ‘Project Recovery’ podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get major podcasts.