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The Opioid Epidemic: An Overview

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The Opioid Epidemic: An Overview

  1. 1. The Opioid Epidemic: An Overview Anyone can become addicted to opioids, but there are some factors that increase an individual’s risk of opioid misuse. Many of these factors reflect an individual’s social or physical environment, and thus are often out of their control.4 - Are treated in the Emergency Department.5 - Work physically demanding jobs, like farming or construction. - Have been incarcerated. - Experience social isolation. - Had adverse childhood experiences.6 - Are treated in the Emergency Department. - Use other substances, especially other medications. - Have peers who engage in substance use. - Are involved in criminal activity. - Experience a major depressive episode or are hospitalized for emotional treatment. Who misuses opioids? Increased Risk Among Adults Who Increased Risk Among Youth Who In recent years, the widespread and tragic misuse of opioids has become a public health epidemic. In New York state, the number of opioid overdose deaths in the state doubled from 2010 to 2015 and 1 in 12 New Yorkers report being affected by opioid use, either directly or indirectly through their imme- diate family.² In addition, opioid use may be related to other public health issues such as child maltreatment.² Opioids can be legal or illegal and are dangerous because they cause life-threatening respiratory depression.3 Common opioids are oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, heroin. Manmade, or synthetic, opioids include a drug called fentanyl, which can be 100 times more potent than morphine.3 What are opioids? For more information contact the Opioid Program Work Team at www.opioids.cce.cornell.edu - Within five days of a person being prescribed opioids, the body and brain can become dependent on this type of drug. - The addiction drives the person to seek out more opioids. They may get more prescription opioids from family, friends, or a doctor; or they may switch to using heroin, because it is cheaper and easier to access.3 Why do people misuse opioids? Addiction is a biological health condition that should be addressed with the care and empathy we afford other diseases. Educate people about the consequences of opioid misuse to help prevent initiation or aid in recovery. Speak compassionately and spread awareness about the social and biological factors that lead to addiction in order to reduce community stigma of people who use substances. Act early, because adolescents tend to have a lower perceived risk of substance use, highlighting the need for early education about addiction risks.7 What can we do? Educate Speak Act Fentanyl contributed to nearly 50% of opioid-related deaths in 2016. sources 1. “What to Do If You Find a Needle.” SOLID Outreach. 2. “What to Do with Used Sharps in New York.” Safe Needle Disposal. 3. “Injection Drug Use and HIV Risk.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 4. Monnat, Shannon M., and Khary K. Rigg. “The Opioid Crisis in Rural and Small Town America.” (2018). 5. “Safely Using Sharps (Needles and Syringes) at Home, at Work and on Travel.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 6. “Child Trauma and Opioid Use: Policy Implications.” The National Child Traumatic Stress Network 7. Rigg, Khary K., Shannon M. Monnat, and Melody N. Chavez. “Opioid-related mortality in rural America: geographic heterogeneity and intervention strategies.” International Journal of Drug Policy 57 (2018): 119-129. Photo by RJ Anderson

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