U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H., released a public health advisory to urge more Americans to carry a potentially lifesaving medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The medication, naloxone, is already carried by many first responders, such as EMTs and police officers.

The Surgeon General is now recommending that more individuals, including family, friends and those who are personally at risk for an opioid overdose, also keep the drug on hand.

An estimated 2.1 million people in the U.S. struggle with an opioid use disorder.  Rates of opioid overdose deaths are rapidly increasing.  Since 2010, the number of opioid overdose deaths has doubled from more than 21,000 to more than 42,000 in 2016, with the sharpest increase occurring among deaths related to illicitly made fentanyl and fentanyl analogs (synthetic opioids).

Opioids are a class of drugs that include medications, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone, which are commonly prescribed to treat pain, as well as illegal drugs, such as heroin.

Read the Surgeon General Advisory and related press release.

Overdose Response Tools & Programs

If taken differently than prescribed, opioids can cause death by slowing, and eventually stopping, a person’s breathing. However, quick response can prevent brain injury and death.

Opioid Overdose Reversal with Naloxone (Narcan, Evzio)
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) created an online resource to raise awareness about naloxone. It includes information on where to get naloxone.

Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit – Updated 2016
Toolkit for communities and local governments from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) includes material to develop policies and practices to help prevent opioid-related overdoses and deaths.

Law Enforcement Naloxone Toolkit
Toolkit for public safety officers provides basic information, resources, and guidance on using naloxone to treat opioid overdose. It includes resources to support establishing a naloxone program.

Prevent and Protect
Help for people to gain access to naloxone. Also provides tools for organizations conducting overdose prevention and naloxone advocacy, outreach, and communication campaigns.

Drug Overdose Immunity and Good Samaritan Laws
Policymakers are seeking solutions that will help curb use and overdose by expanding Good Samaritan immunity, and increasing naloxone access.

Naloxone Training Video from the Baltimore City Health Department
Video on the dangers of opioid misuse, symptoms to recognize an opioid overdose, and a demonstration of how to assemble a naloxone kit and how to administer naloxone intranasally. For additional information visit http://dontdie.org/

FDA’s Naloxone App Prize Competition Celebrates Innovation In Search of Technological Solutions to the Opioid Epidemic
FDA launched this competition to develop innovative solutions to the problem of how to rapidly connect naloxone carriers to a person experiencing an opioid overdose.

Safe Opioid Prescribing

Medical professionals play a key role in facilitating the proper use of opioids. The following resources promote the safe use of these medications in the treatment of chronic pain.

CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed guidelines to improve prescribing opioids for chronic pain. Recommendations focus on the use of opioids in treating pain lasting longer than 3 months or past the time of normal tissue healing, outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care.

Visit HHS.gov/Opioids for help, resources and information about the national opioids crisis.

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