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Keeping Families Safe: Opioid Epidemic

Prescription bottle for Oxycodone tablets and pillsIn the late 1990s, the increase in prescriptions of opioid medication in the U.S. led to widespread misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids. Since then, the rate of overdose deaths involving prescription opioids has increased five-fold. The best way to help combat this epidemic is through awareness and education. Help keep your family safe by learning and talking about the dangers and warning signs of opioid misuse.

What are opioids?

  • An opioid is any substance, natural or synthetic, that attaches to proteins called opioid receptors which reside on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, gut, and other parts of the body. When this happens, opioids block pain signals sent from the body through the spinal cord to the brain.
  • Opioids also affect a person’s reward system which can make them feel euphoric or high, making them highly addictive.
  • Long-term use of opioids can increase dependency and risk of respiratory depression, the slowing or stopping of breathing.
  • There are a large variety of opioids including:
    • Codeine.
    • Percocet.
    • Hydrocodone.
    • Oxycodone.
    • Oxymorphone.
    • Morphine.
    • Heroin, an illegal and highly addictive form of opioid with no medical use.
    • Fentanyl, an illegal, synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.
    • For a full list of prescription opioids visit, HopkinsMedicine.org/opioids/what-are-opioids.html

National Statistics

Opioid Statistics

Opioids

  • 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, accounting for two-thirds of all overdoses.
  • 10.3 million people misused prescription opioids in 2018.
  • Only one Naloxone prescription is written for every 69 high-dose opioid prescriptions.
  • 59.2 people out of 100 were prescribed opioids in Maricopa County in 2017.

Overdoses

  • From 1999 to 2017 more than 770,000 Americans have died from a drug overdose.
  • Children of addicts are eight times more likely to develop an addiction themselves.
  • In 2018, there were 68,000 overdoses in the U.S., a decrease from 138,000 in 2017.
  • 808,000 people used Heroin in 2018; about 80% of people who use Heroin first misused prescription opioids.
  • Addiction is a disease with adolescent origins: 90% of people who have an addiction started to smoke cigarettes and use drugs before they were 18 years old.

Warning Signs

  • Taking more opioids than prescribed.
  • Taking high daily doses of prescription opioids.
  • Uncontrollable cravings and weight fluctuations.
  • Drowsiness and changes in sleep habits and hygiene.
  • Isolation from family or friends.
  • Financial difficulties.

Prevention Tips

  • Talk to your doctor.
    • Discuss other ways to manage pain that do not involve opioids.
    • Ask them to let you know if you are ever prescribed medication with opioids.
    • If you’re prescribed an opioid, use the lowest possible dose in the smallest quantity.
  • Keep prescription opioids in a secure place and out of reach of others, especially children.
  • Keep track of how many pills you have and make note of any missing medication.
  • Talk to your family about the dangers of misusing prescription medication.
  • Teach your family to only take medicines given to them by you or a trusted adult. Remind them to never take anyone else’s medicine.
  • Safely dispose of unused medication by taking it to an RX drop-off location. Find a list of locations here: azdhs.gov/gis/rx-drop-off-locations/index.php

Resources

CDC Help and Resources - CDC.gov/drugoverdose/prevention/help.html
National Helpline - SAMHSA.gov/find-help/national-helpline

Sources:

HHS Opioid Epidemic - HHS.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic/index.html
Mapping the Opioid Epidemic - ARCGIS.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=f86499d99e4340b68229eaccfb02b29f
Opioid Addiction - HopkinsMedicine.org/opioids/signs-of-opioid-abuse.html