As Washington debates the best ways to address the opioid crisis through legislation, nurses are waging the war on opioids every day. They are on the front lines of care, making decisions about how to help people who suffer after a surgical procedure or trauma, those who may have had overdosed, or those struggling to fight their addiction. And their care extends beyond those addicted to their loved ones.
By now, the numbers are well known: every day 90 Americans die due to an opioid overdose and in 2015, 33,000 lives were lost. Those who suffer cross every age group, gender, and socioeconomic class. They’re from all walks of life. They’re the victims of addiction, but also a shift in attitude that has emerged over the last few decades about pain: that pain is bad and should be totally alleviated when possible and that “no one should have to suffer.”