Opioid and Substance Misuse Response Coordination
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According to the CDC, substance use disorders, like opioid use disorder (OUD), have significantly impacted communities across America. When we act early, we can prevent the use and misuse of drugs, like opioids, that can lead to substance use disorders. Prevention activities work to educate and support individuals, families, and communities and are critical for maintaining both individual and community health.
GET THE FACTS
- Overdoses are the leading injury-related cause of death in the United States and appear to have accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic
- In 2020, nearly 92,000 people died from drug overdoses, a 31% increase from the approximately 71,000 overdose deaths in 2019.
- Among the 2020 overdose deaths, about 75% involved a prescription or illicit opioid.
- Research shows that people who have had at least one overdose are more likely to have another.
- In 2020, an estimated 41.1 million Americans needed substance use disorder treatment, but only 2.6 million people with a substance use disorder in the past year received treatment.
Opioid & Substance Use and Misuse
THE SCIENCE OF ADDICTION
Drug addiction can be difficult to understand. Substance use is often associated with a lack of morals or willpower. However, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting often requires more than a strong will and good intentions. Drugs alter the brain and impair the ability to exercise self-control which makes quitting difficult, even for those that want to. It is important to know too, that becoming addicted does not conform to stereotypes and does not always involve illicit substances. Click on our Community and Recovery Resource Guide to find resources for substance use recovery in North Georgia.
What are Opioids?
Opioids include commonly prescribed medications used to treat pain such as morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl, methadone, hydrocodone, and buprenorphine as well as illegal substances like heroin and illicit fentanyl analogs.
Drug overdose and deaths from overdose are preventable. Increasing awareness, education, surveillance, and improving access to treatment and Naloxone can help.
Facts About Fentanyl
- Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.
- It can be prescribed in the form of transdermal patches, or lozenges.
- More recently, deaths and overdoses related to fentanyl are linked to illegally made fentanyl which is sold through illegal drug markets and often mixed with heroin, cocaine, and other substances. Users may or may not be aware of its presence.
- Illegally made Fentanyl has been known to be camouflaged as prescription medications and colorful pills sometimes marketed to younger populations.
How do Overdoses Happen?
Overdoses can happen when an individual misuses a prescription, uses an illicit substance or opioid, or uses a substance/opioid “laced” with other potent opioids such as fentanyl. Taking opioids in combination with other medications or substances like benzodiazepines can also put individuals at risk for overdose. Additionally, overdose can occur if a physician miscalculates opioid dosage, pharmacist error, or if a patient misunderstands the directions for use.
Using a Prescription? Follow these Best Practices
- Follow the directions on the medication label.
- Be aware of potential interactions with other drugs and alcohol.
- Discuss stopping or changing medications with your physician.
- Never use another person’s prescription and never give your medications to others.
- Properly store prescription medications safely away from children and pets.
- Properly dispose of medications that are expired or no longer used at drug take-back locations. Click to find disposal locations near you.
How Can You Help?
- Carry Naloxone (Narcan) if you or someone you know is at risk for opioid overdose.
- If you or someone you know is in an immediate crisis, call Georgia Crisis & Access Line (GCAL) at 1-800-715-4225. Available 24/7.
- Educate yourself and others on the risks associated with substance use, the signs of an overdose, and how to respond.
- If you prescribe or dispense opioids, do so responsibly.
How to Recognize the Signs of an Overdose?
- Unable to talk
- Paleness, skin discoloration, and coldness
- Breathing that is shallow, erratic, or that sounds “rattled” or like snoring
- Blue lips and fingernails
- Pinpoint pupils
- Slow, erratic, or a lack of pulse
Responding to a Suspected Overdose
- Call 911 immediately. Don’t run. Georgia has a medical amnesty law that protects those who may be experiencing an overdose and callers seeking medical attention.
- Administer Naloxone, if available and you know how to use it.
- Try to wake the person by calling their name, using loud speech, or firmly rubbing their sternum (the breastbone).
- If the person responds and awakens, try to keep the person awake and alert.
- To prevent choking, turn a person on their side.
- If the person does not respond, provide rescue breathing if the person is not breathing and stay until emergency responders arrive.
- Naloxone commonly known as Narcan® or Evzio® is a life-saving drug that provides short-term treatment for an overdose.
- Naloxone blocks or reverses the effects of opioids.
- Naloxone is available in local pharmacies for purchase and no prescription is needed.
- Naloxone can be administered through the nasal passages or an injection.
Request free Naloxone and Naloxone administration training through these resources:
- https://youtu.be/odlFtGNjmMQ 9 (CDC Naloxone video)
Do you or someone you know need help?
- Georgia Crisis and Access Line (GCAL
- Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
Call or text 988; chat via https://988lifeline.org/chat/
- Find Substance Use Disorder Treatment Providers
SAMSHA Treatment Locator; findtreatment.samhsa.gov/locator
Local County Resources for Substance Use Disorder Treatment (provide redirect link)
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) and Counseling
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the use of medications, in conjunction with behavioral therapy and counseling, to provide an evidence-based approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. Several medications have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat alcohol and opioid use disorders by relieving withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Commonly used treatment medications include:
- MethadoneMedication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) and Counseling
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) and Counseling
HARM REDUCTION STRATEGIES
- Fentanyl Testing Strips
Fentanyl testing strips can be used to determine whether a substance contains fentanyl. This can discourage an individual from using by informing them of the content of the substance.
- MAT (Medication-Assisted Treatment)
Medications are used in support of the recovery process.
A life-saving medication that reverses the symptoms of an opioid overdose.
- Syringe Access Programs
Prevents the transmission of blood-borne infections, support public safety and increase the likelihood of people who use drugs being engaged in a treatment program.
To learn more and to find resources near you, visit https://harmreduction.org/.
Guidance for Prescribers and Dispensers of Opioid Medications
- Encourage the use of analgesics and other therapies for pain
- Improve communications with patients about the risks of opioid pain treatments
- Co-prescribe/dispense Naloxone with opioid medications
- Use caution when prescribing opioids and other medications
- Continue education on the current best practices for ethical dispensing and prescribing
- Actively participate in Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs)
- Click the links below to access information for prescribers: