Turn the Tide is a movement inspired by the opioid epidemic, a devastating and urgent health crisis facing America. The CDC reports that over 249,000,000 prescriptions for opioids were written in 2013, and that there has been a 300% increase in opioid prescription sales since 1999. These are huge numbers, yet they are not accompanied by an overall change in reported pain. The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, is asking for health care professionals to take the pledge to:
- Educate themselves to treat pain safely and effectively.
- Screen patients for opioid use disorder and provide or connect them with evidence-based treatment.
- Talk about and treat addiction as a chronic illness, not a moral failing.
In a letter, Dr. Murthy ascertains that the results of aggressively prescribing opioids have been devastating. He also admits that solving the problem will not be easy, but that “As clinicians, we have the unique power to help end this epidemic. As cynical as times may seem, the public still looks to our profession for hope during difficult moments.”
On the website, clinicians and patients alike are encouraged to offer their own stories and there are tools and free trainings about treatment options, prescribing opioids, and assessing patients. The risk of opioid disorder and overdose is also discussed. There is also information for patients that discusses managing pain, taking opioids, safe storage and disposal, as well as a help line.
“I know we can succeed because health care is more than an occupation to us. It is a calling rooted in empathy, science, and service to humanity. These values unite us. They remain our greatest strength.”
In addition, the following New York Times article discusses the critical role doctors will play in the opioid epidemic and the direct plea sent by Dr. Murthy to 2.3 million doctors and other health care workers to help fight this crisis by treating pain “safely and effectively.”