The opioid epidemic touches our lives in many ways. Every day, 115 Americans die from opioid overdoses. But there are small things you can do to help.
Try not to start. Opioids, including hydrocodone and codeine, are very addictive. If your doctor prescribes opioids for you or a family member, push back. Ask about options.
You may need an opioid for post-operative pain. But you may also be able to get pain relief for most outpatient surgeries by trying alternate medicines, including over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
My daughter, for example, turned down a hydrocodone prescription by her doctor when she had pain after a wisdom teeth removal. My daughter told me, “I told the doctor that I didn’t want that stuff. We don’t use opioids in our family.”
The doctor ignored the request. My daughter brought home the hydrocodone, which she never used.
An acquaintance of mine spotted the bottle of hydrocodone that my daughter brought home after she had her wisdom teeth removed.
“That’s the only medicine I’ve ever had that helps my knee pain,” she said. “My doctor won’t give it to me anymore. I don’t know why. Can I have this? I’ll buy it from you?”
“No,” I told her firmly. “Your doctor has a reason for not prescribing this. I don’t know that reason. This medicine was prescribed for my daughter, not you. You should not use other people’s medicines.”
Learn to spot the signs of an opioid overdose, especially if someone in your home is using an opioid, such as heroin. You can pick up the drug Naloxone (also called Narcan), which reverses overdoses from opioids, at more than 2,000 pharmacies throughout New York state. To learn how to use the drug, click HERE for a YouTube video, or click HERE to look for a class in New York. For other states, check your state’s Department of Health website.
Become familiar with the outpatient, inpatient, detox, sober living and other types of treatment beds that are available near you. Go to the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) website and click on “Find available treatment beds in New York State.”
We all deal with pain in different ways. You may want to consider whether the following options are suitable for you when managing your pain: over-the-counter pain relievers, acupuncture, meditation, massage therapy, physical therapy or yoga. If you suspect stress is causing your pain, consider talking to a health care professional. It might help. Learn more about Patient Resources.
Most importantly, don’t shy away from talking about the crisis as a family. Don’t blame anyone. Acknowledge the illness and the loss and suffering. Try your best to get informed.
Adapted from a blog article posted on A Healthier Upstate written by Ann Griepp, MD
For more information, see StopAddiction.US.
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