Opioid misuse and addiction has caused an epidemic in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 107,622 deaths in the U.S. in 2021 were due to a drug overdose. About 66% of those deaths were related to opioid overdose. Additionally, the Idaho Drug Overdose Prevention Program reported 241 deaths in Idaho were linked to an opioid overdose in 2021.
The effort to help cut down on opioid-related deaths starts with raising awareness and prevention.
Learning more about opioids and how they work can help raise awareness of opioid abuse and overdose and bring attention to treatment options.
Here is some more information about opioids:
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine describes opioid use disorder (OUD) as a complex illness in which people feel like they can’t stop taking the opioid drug, even when they want to stop, or when using it negatively affects their physical and emotional wellbeing.
Here are some of the symptoms of OUD:
While there are effective treatments for opioid addiction, only about 1 in 5 adults with OUD will get treatment. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), effective treatment includes a mix of prescription drugs with counseling and behavioral healthcare.
There are three FDA-approved drugs that can help curb opioid dependence when combined with mental health treatment:
Counseling and behavioral therapies
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be a key part of an effective treatment plan when combined with medication. CBT can help people recovering from OUD in a few ways, including:
People recovering from OUD can have withdrawals, including anxiety, agitation and insomnia. CBT can help with this by teaching coping methods.
If you are prescribed an opioid drug, here are a few things you can do:
If you know someone who is struggling with an opioid addiction, here are a few ways you can help:
Blue Cross of Idaho follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) rules for using opioids to treat chronic pain. Doctors have a series of steps they need to take when prescribing opioid drugs – especially for patients who haven't taken them before.
Here are a few of the steps doctors follow before prescribing opioids:
Additionally, Blue Cross of Idaho has removed some of the financial barriers to getting naloxone, a drug that can help reverse an opioid overdose.
If you or someone you know are struggling with mental illness or a substance abuse disorder, here are some resources that can help:
For more resources on mental health, visit Blue Cross of Idaho’s mental and behavioral health education page.
Posted: August 30, 2023