Health Topics & Information

Opioids

AND OTHER SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS

What is an opioid?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids are a class of drugs used to reduce pain. Many opioids are legal which include pain medications prescribed by doctors such as morphine, oxycodone and fentanyl. Heroin is an illegal opioid and its use has increased across the U.S. among all men and women.

 

Why are opioids so dangerous?

The feelings of pleasure that result from taking an opioid often make you want to continue experiencing those feelings, which may lead to misuse, abuse and therefore to addiction.

At lower doses, opioids may make you feel sleepy, but higher doses can slow your breathing and heart rate, which can lead to death by overdose.

 

What are some of the signs of an opioid overdose?

According to the CDC, an average of 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

Some of the signs of overdose are listed below:

  • Person looks extremely pale and/or the skin feels clammy to the touch
  • Body is limp
  • Fingernails or lips have a purple or blue color
  • Vomiting or gurgling noises
  • Cannot be awakened or are unable to speak
  • Breathing or heartbeat slows or stops

 

OPIOID OVERDOSE IS AN EMERGENCY! CALL 911

 

What are some of the signs of opioids misuse and abuse?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a person is abusing medication if he/she is taking medicine in a way that is different from what the doctor prescribed. It could be:

  • Taking a medicine that was prescribed for someone else.
  • Taking a larger dose than you are supposed to.
  • Taking medicine in a different way than you are supposed to. This might be crushing tablets and then snorting or injecting them.
  • Using the medicine for another purpose, such as getting high.

 

How to get help?

The good news is that opioid addiction is treatable. Your health plan benefits cover several types of treatment including Inpatient, Residential, Outpatient and Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). Prescribed by a doctor MAT makes use of medications that reduce the cravings or block the pleasure from using Opioids. Combined with other support, like counseling, these medications can help people stop abusing opioids and get on with their lives. Please click here to find a MAT provider near you.
Talk with your doctor if you are misusing opioid medication. Your doctor can refer you to help.

In response to the current opioid epidemic, we are posting the information below for those seeking help regarding opioid dependence.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Effective January 1, 2019, CMS announced new strategies to further help Medicare Part D plans prevent and combat opioid overuse, including additional safety alerts at the time of dispensing as a proactive step to engage both patients and prescribers about overdose risk and prevention. Click here to learn more.

There are multiple forms of substance use disorder besides opioid use. These include: Stimulants, Alcohol, Marijuana, Sedatives and Hallucinogens. Please see below for links to additional information and resources:

Addiction Policy Forum (an overview of Substance Use Disorders)
https://www.addictionpolicy.org/post/types-of-substance-use-disorders

Stimulant Use Dependence
Cocaine and Methamphetamine
https://www.addictionpolicy.org/post/understanding-cocaine-and-methamphetamine-addiction

Alcohol Use Disorder
https://www.addictionpolicy.org/post/what-is-an-alcohol-use-disorder

Marijuana Use Disorder
https://www.addictionpolicy.org/post/what-is-a-marijuana-use-disorder

Sedative Use Disorders
https://www.addictionpolicy.org/post/understanding-xanax-valium-and-other-sedative-addictions

Hallucinogen Use Disorders
https://www.addictionpolicy.org/post/breaking-down-hallucinogen-addiction

If you or someone you love is struggling with any substance use, please seek help right away. There are many supports and services available to assist with recovery.

Fentanyl Helpful Resources:

What is Fentanyl?
No One Should Die of an Overdose
Health Alert: Fentanyl is Killing New Yorkers
last updated: April 26, 2022

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