The overuse of opioids is a public health crisis. Opioid-related deaths have quadrupled in the last fifteen years and now surpass deaths from automobile accidents. Recent studies estimate the opioid epidemic costs the United States $18 billion to $72 billion annually, including $2.2 billion for substance treatment and $8.2 billion for criminal justice costs. Each day, about 12 Californians die from a drug overdose, and opioids—primarily prescription pain relievers and heroin—are the main driver of overdose deaths. Patients seeking relief from chronic pain can too easily become addicted to prescription pain relievers. Smart Care California is promoting actionable approaches to reversing the course of the opioid epidemic.
Patients, Families, and Caregivers
Easy-to-read information on the safe use of prescription painkillers in both print and interactive formats. Key resources include fact sheets on side effects of opioids and alternative ways to manage pain. Providers, payers, and purchasers can distribute these resources to patients and consumers.
- Opioid Safety Coalitions Network—California Health Care Foundation
- Prescription Painkillers 5 surprising facts—Consumer Reports
- Medicines to Relieve Chronic Pain—Consumer Reports
- Treating Frequent Headaches with Pain Relievers—Consumer Reports
- See all resources for patients, families and caregivers
Evidence-based guidelines, best practices, and training materials for physicians and other health care providers on safe opioid prescribing. Practical tools such as Sample Patient Agreement Forms engage patients in conversations about opioid treatment.
- Do No Harm: Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing—Video, Ashley Media
- Sample Patient Agreement Forms—National Institute on Drug Abuse
- See all resources for providers
Payers & Purchasers
Concrete actions for payers and purchasers seeking to effectively manage opioid utilization. Key resources include a minimum insurance benefit design for patients with opioid use disorder and case studies of health plans that have successfully incorporated interventions to encourage safe and appropriate opioid use.
- Curbing the Opioid Epidemic: Checklist for Health Plans and Purchasers—Smart Care California
- Changing Course: The Role of Health Plans in Curbing the Opioid Epidemic—California Health Care Foundation
- Insurance Barriers to Accessing Treatment of Opioid Use and Minimum Insurance Benefits—California Society of Addiction Medicine
- See all resources for payers & purchasers
Narcotics Safety Initiative: Opioid Overuse, Chronic Pain, and What Plans Can Do About It (Marcus Thygeson, M.D., M.P.H., Blue Shield of California, IHA Board Meeting, September 2016)
MemorialCare Health System’s Approach to Reducing Opioid Overuse: The Providers’ Role (James D. Leo, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.C.C.P, MemorialCare Health System, IHA Board Meeting, September 2016)
Reducing Opioid Overuse (Neal Kohatsu, M.D., California Department of Health Care Services, and Kelly Pfeifer, M.D., California Health Care Foundation, Smart Care California Meeting, October 2015)