OPIOIDS – Be Informed!

 In Counseling & Support
Opioids - There are effective alternatives

Opioids – Non-opioid medications and non-pharmacologic treatments are effective alternatives for pain management.

[Jesse 23 years-old] Twenty-two year-olds are NOT suppose to go to sleep and die! We drank some wine, in celebration of my boyfriend graduating college but he kept nodding off so we went to bed earlier than usual. About 3:00 am I woke up and could feel he was cold and not breathing. I tried waking him up. I tried CPR. I called 911. He had promised me that he wouldnt take anymore of those pain meds.

 [Casey- 16 years-old] Ive been sneaking pills from my grandma since I was thirteen. She hardly ever notices. Even if she does, my parents just blame it on her being old and not remembering. I also make the rounds to my friends bathroom cabinets. Just a few here and there but it adds up. Unless I read that the script was filled a long time ago, then I take the whole bottle cause I figure they wont even notice its missing. 

[Michelle 36 years-old] Good grades, good athlete, good girl, that was me. At seventeen, a soccer injury resulted in knee surgery and a prescription for hydrocodone. Ive lost jobs and my drivers license to DUIs. My husband is threatening to divorce me and Im afraid I might lose my kids to CPS. The other day I put my fist through a glass window to get oxys. I lie a lot for the addiction but Im not lying when I say I dont want to lose my family and I dont want to diebut I cant stop.

When was the last time you lost something important? Now, take a moment, and imagine the thing you lost was yourself—you never saw it coming. Addiction happens for many reasons and at any time in someone’s life. It happens every day and at an increasingly alarming rate across the United States. The price for many, is death.

Opioids - Be Informed

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported opioids claimed more than 33,000 lives in the United States in 2015, with over 3.5 million reporting non-medical use of prescription opioids.

Opiate-based medications are prescribed for pain management. For many this treatment works very well but it is important to be informed. Even if a drug is prescribed, there is the risk of addiction and for many medical conditions, opioids do not have to be the first line of treatment. Non-opioid medications and non-pharmacologic treatments such as cognitive behavior therapy also have good evidence for pain management.  

When opiate-based medications are used, strictly follow the prescription and be mindful for symptoms of abuse and/or addiction behaviors, such as the following:

  • Taking medication in a dose or frequency other than prescribed by a medical provider, often resulting in running out of medications early
  • Taking the medications when no longer medically needed
  • Seeking additional medications thru “doctor shopping,” illicit buys or theft.
  • Exaggerating pain, lying or inflicting self-injury to obtain more medications
  • Mood swings or anxiety attacks due to non-prescribed medication use
  • Problems at work, school, relationships due to non-prescribed medication use
  • Intense cravings with inability to stop use
  • Withdrawal symptoms – muscle aches, restlessness, runny nose, irritability, restlessness. Often mistaken as having the flu but may actually be indication of physical dependency.
  • Overdose – constricted or small pupils, vomiting, slow, erratic or absence of breath or pulse

           Get immediate medical help by calling 911 or going to the ER!

Did you know that Washington State has “Good Samaritan” laws that provide certain legal protections for people who need or seek medical help, in the event of an overdose? For more information see: http://stopoverdose.org/section/good-samaritan-law/ 

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is April 29, 2017 although unused prescriptions may be dropped off anytime in a Prescription Drop Box, located at the Pend Oreille County’s Sheriff’s Office or at the Kalispel Public Safety building. For more information on safe disposal methods and why it is important:  http://www.takebackyourmeds.org/what-you-can-do/faqs/

Other Resources:

Washington Recovery Help Line (24-hour) call 1.866.789.1511  https://www.warecoveryhelpline.org/

Washington State DSHS https://www.dshs.wa.gov/bha/substance-use-treatment-services

Pend Oreille County Counseling Services provides outpatient substance use disorder and mental health treatment, to include case management supports for inpatient treatment. Counseling Services also partners with Newport Hospital and Health Services for medication-assisted treatment. Call 509.447.5651  pendoreilleco.org/your-government/counseling-services    

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