What is the opioid epidemic?

The Opioid Epidemic

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are substances that work in the nervous system of the body or in specific receptors in the brain to reduce the intensity of pain. They are a class of drugs that include synthetic opioids like fentanyl, illegal drugs such as heroin, and pain relievers that are given with a prescription.

Prescription Opioids

  • These opioids are usually taken for moderate-to-severe pain after some kind of injury, surgery, or pain from another kind of health condition.
  • Used appropriately and as prescribed, they can play an important role in treatment
  • Prescription opioids may include: oxycodone, codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, fentanyl

How prescription misuse occurs?

  • Taking the medicine in a different way than it was prescribed to you or by taking a different dose that was prescribed
  • Taking another person’s prescription medication
  • Taking the medicine just for the effect that it causes- getting high

What is the Opioid Epidemic?

An increasing amount of opioid medications were prescribed by healthcare providers, which eventually began to lead to the widespread misuse of not only prescription opioids but also non-prescription opioids. Eventually, it became clear that these medications could have the potential to be highly addictive. By 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency and released a 5-Point strategy to combat the Opioid Crisis

5-Point Strategy to Combat the Opioid Crisis

  1. Access: Better Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Services
  2. Data: Better Data on the Epidemic
  3. Pain: Better Pain Management
  4. Overdoses: Better Targeting of Overdose- Reversing Drugs
  5. Research: Better Research on Pain and Addiction

How do I protect my medications/properly dispose of them?

75 percent of opioid misuse starts with people using medication that wasn’t prescribed from them- usually taken from a friend or family member.

  • Always be aware of the kind of medication you have and how much of it you have
  • If you have medications at home, you should consider keeping them in a safe and secure place that can be locked. This will help prevent anyone other than you from accessing it
  • In order to help prevent unauthorized refills, make sure any personal and identifiable information is removed from the prescription bottles/pill packages.
  • Do not flush mediations down the toilet or put them down the drain. This can end up polluting our waters and contaminating our water and food supplies
  • Properly disposing unused medications is important too. Throwing mediations in the trash, even when mixed with an undesirable substance, does not prevent your young adult from finding them and stealing them. Instead of just throwing them away, the best option is to look for a drug take-back day, a drug deactivation bag, or a drug mail-back program. “Operation Medicine Cabinet”
  • For more information about doing your part and keeping your home safe visit http://achcmi.org/achc-resources/do-your-part/