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In 2015, 38% of the overall US population was reported to use prescription opioids, with 11.5 million misusing the drugs, and 1.9 million developing an opioid disorder. Most claimed to overuse the drug to relieve physical pain. As opioid dependence becomes more and more common, we may know someone who is suffering or recovering from addiction among our loved ones or close friends. If this is the case, it’s important to know all that we can about the situation to assess it accurately and know how and when to intervene.

Here are three things to know about opioid dependence and how to avoid it:

1. Awareness

It may come off as obvious, but awareness is critical when it comes to understanding any form of substance abuse. It’s not just on the part of the patient and their loved ones, however. This also involves awareness on the part of the physician in charge of the patient. A thorough inspection of the patient’s background, history, and support systems are necessary for assessing whether the drugs prescribed are fit for the patient to intake.

2. Monitoring

Once the initial prescription has been made, close monitoring of the patient is necessary to ensure that they aren’t prone to abusing the drug. Opioid dependence can be caused by negligence to check up regularly on the patient. Weekly or monthly checkups should be scheduled with the patient. Make sure to see your doctor often, and report any urges or strange side effects.

3. Identification

Some patients who have grown addicted to opioid and are no longer authorized to buy their drugs still get supply by using their old prescriptions. Pharmacists should take the initiative in this case to verify the identity of the patient, and check the validity of their prescriptions. Checking prescription validity is to prevent the patient from abusing their previous medicines and wrongly obtaining more drugs.

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