Reducing the number of opioid prescriptions written should be the primary focus of physicians trying to prevent and reduce the number of individuals addicted to opioids, according to Nora D. Volkow, MD, director, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, here at the American Psychiatric Association 2018 Annual Meeting.
Unlike past trends, more and more patients begin with heroin addiction, instead of first starting with an opioid addiction and then moving on to heroin, Dr. Volkow added. For this, a different approach is required.
“We have to do, basically, prevention interventions, to protect the individuals from experimenting with drugs and getting engaged with drugs themselves,” she said.
Finally, Dr. Volkow added, treat patients who are addicted to opioid prescription medications for their addiction, so that they don’t move on to using illicit drugs like heroin.
“Treatment of the opioid use disorder because, in itself, a prevention to protect that individual from then transitioning into heroin or then transitioning into synthetic opioids,” she concluded.