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Reducing Opioid Overdose and Misuse

The Oregon Acute Opioid Prescribing Guidelines Workgroup has developed set a standard of care in Oregon around safe opioid prescribing for acute pain. The workgroup recommendations address opioid prescribing in primary care, emergency departments, dentistry, and after surgical procedures.

Visit our Task Force page to learn more.


Opioid crisis in Oregon

Oregon, like the rest of the US, is experiencing an opioid crisis, involving misuse, abuse, overdose and death. This crisis involves both prescription opioid pain medications, as well as illicit opioids such as heroin and non-pharmaceutical fentanyl. Oregon has one of the highest rates of misuse of prescription opioids in the nation.

An average of 5 Oregonians die every week from opioid overdose. Heroin contributes to a significant number of overdose deaths, and illicit fentanyl-related deaths are increasing dramatically. Many overdose deaths involve multiple drugs, including both pharmaceutical and illicit opioids. Many more Oregonians develop opioid use disorder and/or dependency.

What OHA is doing to address the opioid crisis

The Oregon Health Authority aims to reduce the burden of opioid misuse and abuse through these key strategies:

  • Supporting safe and effective non-opioid pain management
  • Increasing access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and naloxone rescue
  • Decreasing the number of pills in circulation through appropriate prescribing
  • Collecting and reporting data to inform policy

Current Oregon data suggest that the statewide strategies are making an impact:

  • Prescription opioid overdose deaths decreased 45% between 2006 and 2016.
  • Opioid overdose hospitalizations have slightly increased.
  • Prescriptions for opioids have been steadily declining over several years.

Prescribing Guidelines

Oregon’s Acute Opioid Prescribing Guidelines workgroup has approved adoption of recommendations for patients with acute pain not currently on opioids. This work builds on the recommendations of Oregon's Opioid Prescribing Guidelines Task Force which approved adoption of Oregon-specific opioid prescribing guidelines in 2016. Both sets of guidelines focus on recommendations to improve patient safety and care, and address the ongoing prescription opioid overdose epidemic.

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