Case Managers on the Front Lines of Opioid Epidemic Response: Advocacy, Education, and Empowerment for Users of Medical and Nonmedical Opioids

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Abstract

Purpose:

The purpose of this article is to examine how case managers, taking a holistic, patient-centered approach that is grounded in advocacy, have a crucial role to play in the opioid crisis response. This includes providing education, support, and resources to prevent misuse of and addiction to opioids prescribed for pain management and intervening with more resources to help combat the nonmedical use of prescription opioids and heroin.

Primary Practice Settings:

In addition to case managers in acute care, workers' compensation, and palliative care, who have frequent contact with patients who are prescribed opioid medications for pain management, all case managers may interact with patients and support systems/families who are directly or indirectly impacted by opioid use, misuse, and addiction.

Implementations for Case Management Practice:

The broad scope of the opioid epidemic necessitates individualized interventions to address the multiple needs of individuals. The case manager, particularly one who is board-certified, has the expertise and knowledge to assess individual needs, identify treatment and other resources, and provide education and support to the patient and family/support system. In addition, given the complexity and life-or-death consequences associated with the opioid crisis, a timely and comprehensive approach is essential, bringing together multiple disciplines in health care, public health, addiction, pain management, social work, mental health counseling, pharmacology, and case management.

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