News

A Guide For Physicians: National Organizations Customizes Booklet for Arkansas

by Virginia A. Stanick, Ph.D.

[DAABHS Research Project Analyst]

*Copies will be distributed to Physicians and other medical professionals (prescribers) in the near future – courtesy of the Office of Arkansas Drug Director, Arkansas Department of Human Services and AFMC.

rkansas continues to have opioid/narcotic prescription rates that are much greater than most other states. Medical professionals throughout Arkansas will soon be receiving a useful resource to add to their professional toolkits in the battle to bring our state’s opioid prescription rates to a level in line with—or better than—national standards. The Arkansas Department of Human Services/Division of Aging, Adult, and Behavioral Health Services (DAABHS) will soon be delivering to physicians across the state, a “pocket guide” entitled, “The ASAM National Practice Guideline for the Use of Medications in the Treatment of Addiction Involving Opioid Use.”

This practice guideline contains much more information than its title might imply. ASAM (The American Society for Addiction Medicine), a professional organization in the field of addiction medicine, was founded in 1954. ASAM remains a thought-leader in areas related to addiction medicine; the organization has produced many publications of the type to be distributed to Arkansas medical practitioners, as well as policy, advocacy, and position papers related to preventing and treating drug misuse. This “Opioid Practice Guideline” not only provides clear, concise material to help medical professionals recognize, diagnose, and treat patients with Opioid Use Disorder; it also has a wealth of additional information related to treating complex cases. The Arkansas-customized version of this book includes pages with Arkansas State Medical Board rules and regulations on opioid prescribing and a checklist for prescribers to use when considering prescribing an opioid medication for chronic pain.

To assure as many physicians as possible will receive this very useful book (that is literally “pocket-sized,” so it can be comfortably carried and always accessible), DAABHS is collaborating with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Department of Continuing Education, to send copies to all Arkansas doctors listed on the Department’s mailing list. The pocket guide will be accompanied by a letter from State Drug Director, Kirk Lane, who strongly supports this professional education effort. An initial shipment of 8,000 books is being prepared for shipment statewide. DAABHS will focus next on broadening the scope of this guideline distribution by sending similar packets to other groups of professionals and hopes to reach all those with licenses that permit them prescribing privileges.

DAABHS has been awarded several grants by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration), a branch of the US Department of Health and Human Services. Those grants support a variety of programs to reduce the impact of problem drug use, as well as preventing the development of drug misuse with the many negative effects it creates. This ASAM Opioid Guideline project is one of many parts of Arkansas’s “State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis” grant program. One major aim of the program is to reshape the way prescription pain medications are used, by educating both community members and medical professionals.