Opioid education becoming essential in Radford University nursing curriculum

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RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) Opioid education is not a new concept, but instruction on opioid use and prescribing that medication is now taking a more centered focus within the Radford University School of Nursing.

"In order to change the tide of Opioid abuse it starts with the one-on-one interactions with providers and patients and making sure there is good education and good communication and there is a focus on the whole patient, not just that particular pain issue," said Megan Hebdon, an assistant professor of nursing at Radford University.

Opioid abuse is steadily becoming a bigger issue in the US.

Overdoses involving opioids killed more than 28,000 people in 2014, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. More than half of those deaths were from prescription opioids. Deaths connected to opioids have nearly quadrupled since 1999.

Radford is part of the National Opioid Education Campaign, and was featured in the program's launch at the White House in April.

"Learning from the beginning how to provide holistic pain management and how to prescribe opioids responsibly and appropriately is very valuable within your education," Hebdon said.

The school joins 191 other schools of nursing nation-wide that is also taking part in this effort. They've discovered the prescription abuse has no limits on who it can effect.

"I've seen it in every socioeconomic setting. It's everywhere. It's not just one group that is more prone to it," Hebdon said.

The newest CDC guidelines on prescription and pain management will be included into the curriculum this summer for advanced nursing students.