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drug diversion, opioid abuse, opioid addiction, opioid misuse, prescription opioids, substance use disorders



  1. Manworren, Renee C. B. PhD, RN, APRN-BC, PCNS-BC, FAAN
  2. Gilson, Aaron M. PhD, MSSW


Overview: Prescription opioid abuse is at epidemic levels. Opioids diverted from friends and family members who have legitimate prescriptions are a major source of abused prescription opioids. Nurses are vital to any effort to combat this public health crisis because they have the opportunity to provide essential anticipatory guidance every time a patient receives prescription medication. The purpose of this article is to inform nurses of the magnitude of opioid diversion, the nonmedical use of opioids, and opioids' inappropriate disposal. The authors propose three potential interventions in which nurses can play a critical role: teaching patients about the risks of opioid diversion, providing patients with information on the safekeeping and proper disposal of opioids, and tracking patients' analgesic use to improve our knowledge of prescription analgesic requirements for pain management. Nurses are in an ideal position to help reverse the occurrence and potentially fatal consequences of prescription opioid diversion.