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Oct 25, 2016 06:24 AM EDT

American College Health Association Announces New Guidelines For Opioid Epidemic

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The American College Health Association (ACHA) has rolled out new prescribing guidelines to fight the opioid epidemic. This comes after several Americans, including college students, have overdosed on this type of drug.

In a press release, the ACHA released these new guidelines for Opioid Prescribing in College Health which also provide descriptions of the issues surrounding opioid prescribing, an outline of methods to increase patient safety when prescribing as well as to identify possible avenues to assist addicted students through rehabilitation, recovery and return to the college environment.

The new guidelines were developed in order to help equip college health professionals who may feel unprepared when prescribing for long-term pain management. It will also help smaller or rural campuses who may not always have access to qualified off-campus pain management specialists.

These ACHA guidelines will also prepare college health professionals better to meet students' needs for pain management. This is helpful for maximizing student safety and educating them on opioid misuse and overdose.

Opioid Prescribing in College Health includes recommendations for screening patients for conditions that can increase likelihood of opioid abuse, such as depression or family history of substance abuse. Health professionals also need to determine whether the risks of using prescription opioids outweigh the benefits to the students.

Moreover, a college health center should be prepared to provide training in how to prevent and respond to opioid overdose. College health professionals also need to be able to provide support for students who are entering or returning to campus from recovery.

"College students are not immune to the opioid epidemic, and these prescribing guidelines will help college health professionals reduce the misuse of prescription opioids within campus communities," chair of the task force Jessica Higgs, MD, director of Health Services at Bradley University, said. "Physicians must be aware of and have access to resources available to best treat their patients for acute and chronic pain management as well as addiction. This is especially important for college health providers, who are often treating patients who lack a medical home."

It was reported that Michigan schools are now allowed to use and stock Naloxone, an antidote against drug overdoses. Once a district has decided to obtain the antidote, it is required to train a minimum of two employees to administer the drug.

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