Opioid Prevention for Aging & Longevity (O.P.A.L.)

What are Opioids?

Opioids are a group of pain medications used in the treatment of moderate and severe pain. When prescription opioids are used appropriately, they can be an important part of managing acute or chronic pain, although they are associated with some serious side effects, particularly in older adults.

Arkansas ranks 46th overall for senior health status and has the 2nd highest overall opioid prescribing rate in the nation especially for older adults on Medicare. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2019, the opioid prescribing rate for Arkansas was 102.1 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons – nearly twofold greater than the average U.S. rate of 58.7.

The O.P.A.L. Education and Awareness Program

In response to the national opioid epidemic, under the direction of Dr. Jeanne Wei and Dr. Gohar Azhar, the O.P.A.L. Program is providing adults age 55 and older an opportunity to learn more about opioid pain medications, non-opioid pain medications and integrative medicine therapies like Tai Chi, Yoga, mindfulness meditation and other therapies for the management of chronic pain. Nurse educators are also providing education on opioid use disorder (OUD), a pattern of opioid use that can lead to serious impairment or distress. Classes are open now on “Understanding Opioid Pain Medication: Information for Mature Adults and Caregivers”.

If you are an adult age 55 and want to participate in this study or want more information about the program, contact Regina V. Gibson, PhD, MALS, RN at 501.686.7316 or Leaann Mercer, BSN, RN at 501.526.6388.


For more information on the O.P.A.L. program, contact Regina V. Gibson, PhD, MALS, RN

at 501.686.7316 or Leaann Mercer, RN, BSN at 501.526.6388.