What Can you Do to Fight the Opioid Epidemic?
A majority of U.S. opioid painkiller users are at risk of addiction, and they don't even know it.
In analyzing the results of a public opinion poll, several conclusions jump off the page:
· Americans don't know their painkillers contain opioids, or that it is a felony to share them
· Opioid users are unconcerned about addiction, but most have reason to worry
· Opioid users overestimate the benefits of opioids and underestimate the risks of addiction or death.
A Life Cut Short
A suburban Chicago mother who lost her son to an overdose is doing everything she can to increase public awareness of the risks associated with using opioids like codeine, Vicodin, Demerol, methadone, morphine and oxycodone.
Felicia Miceli's 24-year-old son, Louie, died in August 2012. The problem started when he was injured playing high school football and was prescribed opioids.
Today, Felicia speaks on the dangers of prescription drug abuse at events like International Overdose Awareness Day.
Talk to Your Kids about the Risks of Opioid Painkillers
Warn children that taking a drug that wasn't prescribed to them is just as dangerous as illegal drugs:
1. Discuss the dangers of mixing prescription drugs with alcohol
2. Explain how painkillers are made from
opioids, which are similar to heroin
3.Talk to grandparents and caregivers about
how to safely store their medications
4. Secure any opioid painkillers, sedatives,
sleep medications or stimulants in a locked
drawer or container
Never Mix Your Medications
Mixing alcohol and other drugs with opioid painkillers can intensify the effects:
· Never mix opioid medications with alcohol, sleep aids, anti-anxiety drugs or other pain relievers
· Do not take extended-release opioids "as needed" for pain or more frequently than prescribed by your doctor
· Talk to your prescriber and pharmacist to ensure you won't have drug interactions from other medications
Expired and Unwanted Prescriptions
More than half of people who misuse opioid pain relievers get them from a friend or family member. Instead of letting your leftover medication fall into the wrong hands:
· Request a Stericycle pill return envelope
Request an Opioid Warn-Me Label
To keep fewer pills out of circulation to begin with, you can request an Opioid Warn-Me label from NSC. A Warn-Me Label on an insurance card or prescription card is a sign to doctors and pharmacists that you want answers to the following questions:
· Am I being prescribed an opioid?
· If so, is there a non-addictive alternative?
· If not, is a short-term prescription possible?
Do I have any medical conditions, mental health issues or a family history that could increase my risk?
Is There a Way to Use Opioid Painkillers Safely?
In select, individual cases, opioids may be one part of an effective pain management plan. Even then, patients should be monitored closely and opioids should be used at the lowest dose for the shortest amount of time.
Treat over-the-counter and prescription drugs with caution:
· Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you have questions about medicine
· Know the dose that is right for you
· Read and follow instructions every time
· Never take multiple medicines with the same active ingredient unless directed by a doctor
· Put over-the-counter and prescription medicines up and away and out of sight
Can you Recognize the Signs of an Overdose?
·Slow and loud breathing
·Sleepiness, progressing to stupor or coma
·Weak, floppy muscles
·Cold and clammy skin
·Slow heart rate
·Dangerously low blood pressure
Copyright 2018 National Safety Council. Retrieved from https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/safety-topics/opioids/what-you-can-do