America’s struggle with the growing opioid epidemic has been well documented through national news headlines over the past few years. Opioid addiction and dependence does not discriminate—it can impact anyone regardless of age, gender or geographic location. What hasn’t been widely discussed is that the operating room has become an inadvertent gateway to this tragic epidemic.

A nationwide survey conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf Pacira Pharmaceuticals found that one in 10 patients became addicted to or dependent on opioids after being exposed to them following surgery. Non-opioid approaches and alternatives exist, but they’re not being discussed. Less than a quarter of patients surveyed said they discussed non-opioid options with their doctor prior to surgery. In fact, most patients were unaware they had a choice when it came to postsurgical pain management and deferred to their doctors to make decisions on their behalf.

Given the clear need to cultivate better communication between patients and surgeons regarding available pain treatment options, Pacira and the American Society for Enhanced Recovery (ASER) launched the Choices Matter program to educate both patients and physicians about their options for managing pain after surgery.

Former professional volleyball player, Gabrielle Reece, had a powerful and relevant story to share as she recovered from knee replacement surgery without the help of prescription opioids.

“I knew pain would be a natural part of the recovery process following my knee replacement operation. Even before my surgery, I made a personal decision to not rely too heavily on opioids to manage my symptoms,” said Reece. “It’s great to know that non-opioid options exist and that strong prescription painkillers aren’t the only way to manage pain after surgery. Ultimately, we’re the number one cheerleaders for our health so asking questions is key. The more information we have about our options, the better we can collaborate with our doctors on a personalized plan that gets us back on our feet again as quickly and safely as possible after surgery.”

While the Choices Matter campaign has truly sparked a national dialogue about alternatives to opioids, there’s much more work to be done. If you or a loved one need surgery, download this Discussion Guide to help speak with your doctor about your pain management options.