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Educate Patients about Addictive Qualities of Painkillers

Pain killers

As a prescriber of painkilling medications, you have a key role to play in preventing their diversion, misuse and abuse. Narcotic analgesics, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, have become a leading source of drug abuse among teens and young adults. Educating this age group, as well as all of your patients, on the powerful addictive qualities of these and other medications should be routine when you hand patients their prescriptions.

Things to keep in mind when you prescribe medications to your patients

  • Tell patients about the dangers of using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. Many don't know that using drugs other than prescribed is illegal, dangerous and can even be fatal.  
  • Be judicious about prescribing opioid painkillers and, when doing so, counsel patients about how to properly secure, monitor and dispose of their medication(s). 
  • Learn to recognize when a patient may be seeking prescription drugs for non-medical purposes. Reference your state's prescription drug monitoring program to determine whether a patient may be "doctor shopping."
  • Urge patients to visit MouthHealthy.org/rxabuse to learn more about keeping prescription drugs from becoming a source of harm. 

Watch archived recordings of the ADA’s opioid prescribing webinar series or attend the ADA’s State Dentist Well-Being Program Conference which provides continuing education on opioid prescribing and abuse prevention. Both will help refresh your knowledge about opioid prescribing in the context of modern day drug-seeking behavior. 

Campaigns & Initiatives

ADA Policies, Statements & Guidelines

ADA Resources

Additional Resources

ADA Communiques

  • November 12, 2012Letter responding to questions from Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV about dentistry's role in preventing the diversion, misuse and abuse of prescription drugs.
  • October 15, 2012—Coalition letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the public health impact of rescheduling hydrocodone-containing combination drug products (HCCs) from Schedule III (C-III) to Schedule II (C-II).
  • September 25, 2012Issues Alert urging dentists to counsel their patients about how to keep prescription drugs from becoming a source of harm.
  • September 25, 2012—Letter advising state dental societies about National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day and the resources available for dentists to refresh their knowledge about opioid prescribing.
  • September 25, 2012—ADA News article on professional opportunities for dentists to help prevent prescription drug abuse. 
  • September 25, 2012 — Press release on efforts to help prevent prescription drug abuse.   
  • September 25, 2012 — Letter advising state dental societies about National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day and the resources available for dentists to refresh their knowledge about opioid prescribing. 
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