February 14, 2020

Opioid Prevention for Aging and Longevity – O.P.A.L.

Opioids are a class of drugs that include both illegal & prescription drugs but most importantly pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), fentanyl, hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Sadly, Arkansas has the 2nd highest overall opioid prescribing rate in the nation. Especially for older adults with Medicare, there are 102.6 prescriptions written for every 100 people in the state according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In response to the national opioid epidemic, the Opioid Prevention for Aging and Longevity (O.P.A.L.) program, at the UAMS Reynolds Institute on Aging, is reaching out to older adults and caregivers in the community to provide education about opioid pain medications, opioid use disorder (OUD) awareness, and non-opioid pain therapies for the management of chronic pain.

The UAMS Center on Aging Northeast is pleased to be a part of this initiative by educating our communities on ways to combat this problem and improve the overall health of our senior adults.

  • Prescription opioids carry serious risks with long-term use
  • Opioid overdose can result in slowed breathing and sudden death
  • Prescription medications can cause side effects like nausea, vomiting, constipation, confusion, sleepiness, depression and dizziness.
  • If you are over 65, you are at greater risk for side effects if you also have a chronic disease or health condition such as dementia, sleep apnea, depression or anxiety.

Did you know that when taking opioids, certain other medications should be avoided?  In addition, there are alternatives and therapies that can help manage pain which are proven to have great results.

Give us a call at the UAMS Center on Aging Northeast at 870-207-7595 to learn more about the OPAL program.  We are available to send one of our Community Educators to visit with your church or community group as well.  You can also email Melissa Blaske at mblaske@uams.edu.