The Choices Matter campaign joined forces with Shatterproof – a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the devastation addiction causes families – to broadcast a live panel discussion to nearly 100,000 Facebook followers about effective non-opioid options for managing pain after surgery. The discussion was led by Shannon Hartley, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Shatterproof, and featured commentary from Dr. Alyssa Dweck, OB/GYN and women’s health expert, and Kimberly Robbins, Shatterproof Ambassador, recovery life coach and military veteran. While each woman had their own unique story and connection to the opioid crisis, all three could relate to being a mother and having conversations with their children about the opioid epidemic.

As a mom, Shannon explained how she stepped in to advocate for non-opioid options during her teenage son’s recent wisdom tooth surgery. And, as CMO of Shatterproof, she shared her keen knowledge of the opioid epidemic. Shannon shed light on some of the recent data about the current state of opioid prescribing from the 2018 Choices Matter status report, as well as statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A new report by Choices Matter found that patients are receiving nearly 100 to 200 opioids to help manage postsurgical pain from four common procedures ranging from hip replacement and knee replacement to rotator cuff repair and sleeve gastrectomy.

Kimberly shared how her battle with opioid dependence began with an opioid prescription following a hip surgery she needed after sustaining an injury in the military. She told the story of her journey to recovery and how it led to her passion of educating others about addiction, and how surgery can be an inadvertent gateway to opioid dependence. Kimberly now advocates for better access to non-opioid options and safe disposal of medications through her role as a recovery life coach.

"Just leaving [opioids] in the medicine cabinet isn’t an option. Most young ones that do experiment with opioids, they get them from a family member." – Kimberly Robbins [19:06- 19:16]

Almost half of 40 to 54-year-old patients with leftover opioids kept the pills in their home – an age range typical of parents of teenage children who are at high risk for diversion and misuse.

Dr. Dweck provided commentary from a surgeon’s perspective, describing the recent changes that have been made in the healthcare field to help minimize or completely eliminate the need for opioids to manage postsurgical pain. She also explained how in her practice, she routinely uses a non-opioid approach that enables her patients to comfortably recover from surgery.

"No medical care professional wants anyone to suffer in pain, but I think it’s really important to manage expectations. We need to educate our patients and let them know there is going to be pain, this is how we’re going to manage things, and set them up for a realistic course." – Dr. Alyssa Dweck [6:45-7:05]

The Facebook Live discussion echoed the importance of having better communication with family, friends and healthcare professionals about available options, including non-opioids, to manage pain after surgery. To hear the entire discussion, watch the full event video here.