Events & News

Trying to understand the situation


            As the opioid overdose epidemic continues to be fought by first responders who are on the front line and the agencies working in the background, people still criticize use of Narcan to prevent death from overdose. One of the reasons cited is that it is costly. But the problem is huge enough that the U.S. Surgeon General issued a statement earlier this month emphasizing the importance of more people knowing how to use Naloxone and keeping it within reach to save a life.

            Naloxone (also known as Narcan) is used to temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The reversal lasts about 90 minutes, time enough to get treatment started. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said overdose reversing medication is a key part of the public health response to the opioid epidemic.

            Because of the negative opinions about giving victims of overdose another chance, perhaps a number of chances, it seems very important to understand why there is an epidemic and the far-reaching depths of it.

            NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) advises that 115 Americans die daily due to opioid overdose. Opioids are prescription drugs, pain relievers, heroin and fentanyl.

            The agency explains that this problem began in the 1990s when pharmaceutical companies assured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers. Health care providers began to prescribe them more, leading to the misuse of the pain medications. Some facts are provided by NIDA:

            About 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. Eight to 12 percent develop an opioid addiction. Sadly, some who misuse prescription drugs move on to heroin. About 80 percent of those who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.

            Take a second look at what you just read, particularly if you have said that Naloxone shouldn’t be used, just let them die. What if it happened to you or someone you love very much?

            Opioid overdoses increased 30 percent from July 2016 to September 2017 in 45 states. In the Midwest opioid overdoses in large cities increased by 54 percent. In 2015, 2 million people in the U.S. suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers and 591,000 suffered a heroin use disorder.

            Columbiana County’s population in 2016 was 107,841. There were 146 reported encounters, which means reported through inpatient, emergency room, urgent care or observation, according to the Ohio Hospital Association. The OHA also reports that in the Akron/Canton/Youngstown region, the most likely users are white/Caucasian males between the ages of 18 and 39. But it can happen to anyone.

            Each year in the U.S. alone, the economic burden for this problem is $78.5 billion in healthcare costs, lost productivity, addiction treatment and involvement of the criminal justice system.

            The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health are working on the problem by:

  • Improving access to treatment and recovery services.
  • Promoting use of overdose-reversing drugs.
  • Strengthening understanding of the epidemic through better public health surveillance.
  • Providing support for cutting-edge research on pain and addiction.
  • Advancing better practices for pain management.

Back to News

Support Meetings