“…It’s not random people who have addiction — they’re our friends, our family members, our neighbors…”
– Dr. Leana Wen, Former Baltimore City Health Commissioner.
It’s Never Worth It is an effort by the Carroll County Health Department to spread awareness of the connection between heroin use and prescription opioid pain medication misuse/abuse and to inform the public of the resources available.
- There were 2,106 opioid-related overdose deaths in Maryland in 2019, according to the Maryland Department of Health
- Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them, and between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder
- An estimated 4 to 6 percent who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin
- About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids (CDC)
It’s never too late. Chronic addiction is a treatable illness. Anyone suffering from this illness can break the cycle of addiction.
Know the signs of an opioid overdose.
- Labored breathing, difficulty breathing or shallowed breathing.
- Clammy skin.
- Lips, fingers or face begin to turn blue.
- Limp body.
- Pinpoint pupils
- Cannot wake.
- Death Rattle – very distinct, labored exhale that may sound like snoring. This indicates emergency resuscitation is needed IMMEDIATELY
What should I do if I witness an overdose?
- Call 911 immediately!
- Administer naloxone, if available
- If the person isn’t breathing, do rescue (mouth-to-mouth) breathing by pinching the nose and blowing into the mouth
- Lay the person on their side once they have resumed breathing
- Stay with the person until medical help arrives
DON’T BE AFRAID TO HELP. Maryland’s Good Samaritan Law can protect those who “provide assistance for a person experiencing an alcohol- or drug-related medical emergency.”
What Are Opioids?
Opioids include illegal drugs like heroin and illicit fentanyl, and prescription medications used to treat pain like Percocet, OxyContin, hydrocodone, and others. Opioids attach to proteins in the body, and reduce the perception of pain. Opioids also affect the brain’s reward center. Opioids can produce drowsiness, vomiting, allergic reactions, mental confusion, nausea, constipation and can depress breathing. Taken as prescribed, opioids may help manage pain when taken for a short amount of time. Regular use often leads to physical dependence; withdrawal symptoms may occur if drug use is suddenly reduced or stopped. Risk of addiction occurs when medications are taken at higher than recommended doses, combined with alcohol or other drugs, or taken without a prescription. (NIDA)
- Hydrocodone (Lortab, Vicodin, Lorcet, Tussionex)
- Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, Tylox)
- Morphine (Kadian, Avinza, Oramorph, Dolphine)
- Codeine (Tylenol w/Codeine, Phenaphen w/ Codeine)
- Tramadol, Ultram
- Suboxone (Talwin, Buprenorphine)
Opioid Overdose Prevention
2018 data shows that every day, 128 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement (CDC). Opioid overdose is a serious public health concern, but all of us can have a role in reducing opioid overdose.
How to Avoid Opioid Misuse / Opioid Overdose
- Take medication only as prescribed.
- Do not take more than instructed.
- Call a doctor if your pain worsens.
- Never mix painkillers with alcohol or sleeping pills.
- Store your medication in a safe place.
- Dispose of unused medication properly.
- Teach your friends and family how to respond to an overdose.
- Discuss any concerns with your doctor.
Signs of Opioid Misuse
- Pinpoint pupils
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty breathing
- Nasal problems
- Collapsed veins
- Itching or flushed skin
- Nodding off
Risk Factors for Opioid Overdose Include:
- Resumption of use after a period of abstinence from opioid use, such as recent release from detoxification, drug treatment or correctional facility
- Using opioids in combination with other drugs, particularly alcohol or sedatives such as benzodiazepines
- Serious medical problems such as advanced HIV infection and impaired liver function
- Using opioids alone or without others present raises the risk of death if an overdose occurs
- Mild: watery eyes, runny nose, sleepy/yawning, sweating
- Severe: agitated, irritable, loss of appetite
- Muscle cramps/pains
- Restless legs
- Irregular Heartbeat
*Opioid withdrawal is extremely uncomfortable, but not life threatening. It is recommended that you contact a doctor or treatment center
RESOURCES AND CONTACT
Looking for information about what is happening in our county and state?
See these sources:
Do you have questions? A friend or family member in need? Contact us today through the web form or any of these other means:
Carroll County Health Department
290 South Center Street
Westminster, MD 21157
The Good Samaritan Law(Ch. 375–SB 654)
Maryland’s “Good Samaritan Law” was amended October 1, 2015. The law expands protections for individuals who seek medical assistance after witnessing or experiencing an overdose. A person who, in good faith, seeks, provides, or assists with the provision of medical assistance after an overdose is immune from arrest, charge, or prosecution for six non-violent alcohol or drug crimes.
“Violations covered by this law are possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of drug paraphernalia or controlled paraphernalia, underage possession of alcohol, and furnishing or obtaining alcohol for underage persons.”