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Safer Opioid Use: Simulation Exercise

Overuse of prescription pain medications among patients is a common problem in medical practice. A patient’s description of pain is often determined by one’s cognitive perception, resulting in drastic variation in ache tolerance (Edelman et al., 2014). Although various relief measures are available, patients with a significantly high level of discomfort may overuse opioids and become addicted to this type of pain management (Edelman et al., 2014). The role of healthcare workers is to discuss possible side effects of these drugs and ensure appropriate medication use. Furthermore, health practitioners should empower patients for lifestyle modifications that can improve their quality of life. For example, I had a chance to work with a young patient who developed unilateral lower limb pain after a mild car accident. She did not have any fractures in her limbs, but the patient experienced acute pain in her left leg after any physical activity. Her quality of life was declining as she was increasing opioid use. After I encouraged her to seek a therapist’s help, she was able to stop her pain medications in four months.

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The interactive simulation, Pathways to Safer Opioid Use, is a valuable tool that demonstrates best and worst practices for safer opioid use. I apply in my nursing practice some of the strategies mentioned in this exercise to improve patient literacy. For example, I always try to establish a rapport with patients by warm greetings, maintaining eye contact, and avoiding medical jargon. Furthermore, I prefer to check the patient understanding of my explanations by the teach-back method. I noticed that this method helps prevent any misunderstanding about provided information and show care for patients, which is emotionally comforting. However, there are some challenges in trying to improve health literacy. For instance, some patients are highly addicted to medications and their lifestyle; thus, they are resistant to any changes in their routine even after a long consultation session with a healthcare worker. In my opinion, group therapy can be helpful in such cases because a sense of shared experience alleviates painful transition to new habits and ensures a better quality of life.


Edelman, C. L., Mandle, C. L., & Kudzma, E. C. (2014). Health promotion throughout the life span. Elsevier Mosby.

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