Preventing Opioid Abuse and Addiction with Awareness

The opioid crisis is a national epidemic that continues to grow throughout Pennsylvania and across the country.

More than 63,000 Americans died as a result of a drug overdose during 2016. That number will likely continue to rise. An estimated 2 million Americans will suffer from addiction to prescription or illicit opioids during 2018, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Awareness initiatives, such as International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31, aim to help people suffering from opioid addiction, while offering prevention and treatment tips to all.

When people are fighting addiction, they’re often not alone. Friends and family members usually do all they can to help those struggling with addiction win their battle. However, it can be hard for some people to understand why their loved one has gone down the path of addiction.

If you know someone battling addiction to opioids, it’s more important than ever to know how to access and use naloxone.

Naloxone can save the life of someone experiencing an opioid overdose, according to U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who in April released the first advisory in more than 13 years advocating for naloxone’s use among the public and first responders, including EMTs and police.

Naloxone is a medication that reverses the effects of an overdose caused by prescription pain medications (Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin), heroin, and illicit fentanyl. Learn how to access naloxone in Pennsylvania.

How to spot opioid misuse: behaviors to look for

Having access to naloxone will allow you to be prepared to treat an overdose quickly, if necessary, but it will not resolve your loved one’s addiction.

And, depending on the circumstances, you might not be aware your loved one has a dependency on opioids until an overdose occurs. If you’re unsure, look for signs of misuse with the following behaviors:

  • Is the person taking medication prescribed for someone else?
    (Even if he or she is in )
  • Is the person taking a higher dose than prescribed?
  • Is the person taking the medication more often than prescribed?
  • Is the person taking the medication to receive a euphoric high?
  • Has the person started acting differently than he or she used to?
  • Has the person lost interest in his or her favorite things?
  • Does the person experience mood swings?

Once you discover there is a problem, the next step is to learn why the person has chosen to use opioids. Often, an individual is prescribed opioid medication to deal with severe physical pain but uses the medication more often than needed for other reasons.

If you’re worried about a substance abuse disorder for yourself or a loved one, you can call a free, confidential, 24/7 hotline at 1-800-622-4357.