Battling an Epidemic on the Front Lines of America’s Opioid Crisis

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On March 16, a Centerville, Ohio pilot and his wife were found dead by their four young children. They apparently had overdosed on fentanyl, an opioid painkiller 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.

This couple is among the latest victims of an opioid crisis sweeping America. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that synthetic opioid overdose deaths increased by 80 percent from 2013 to 2014. And the numbers keep rising. Some local governments, such as the city of Everett, Washington, are suing opioid drug manufacturers, as the number of people facing addiction has gone out of control.

Facts show extent of the problem

From cities to small towns, across demographic groups and locations, opioid addiction and overdoses are on the rise. These figures illustrate the scope of the epidemic:

  • 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioids in 2015 1
  • Opioid-related deaths totaled more than 33,000 in 20152
  • Every day, over 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids3

Naloxone used to reverse opioid effects

These numbers suggest that we must increase awareness about the dangers of opioids and improve our treatment programs for their abuse. In addition, until those numbers decrease, we must improve our methods of emergency response to opioid overdose.

Naloxone is a medication used to reverse the effects of opioids and even treat overdoses. The best practice for healthcare providers and emergency responders is to always have Naloxone available in case of opioid-related emergencies, especially in cities most affected by the epidemic. Indeed, Naloxone is supplied widely to possible first responders, including the police.

Solving the crisis on many fronts

Unfortunately, the opioid epidemic shows no immediate sign of reversing. Dental and medical professionals need to be prepared now for encountering someone who is overdosing on an opioid medication. HealthFirst provides an antidote, equipping you with the right Naloxone medication essential to treating opioid effects. HealthFirst offers Naloxone to qualified purchasers and sells emergency medical kits that contain it.

As always, we’re here to help you ensure patient safety by providing the medications and equipment you need to respond to emergencies.  You can contact us at 800-331-1984.

Sources:

  1. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 16-4984, NSDUH Series H-51).
  2. Rudd RA, Seth P, David F, Scholl L. Increases in Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths-United States, 2010–2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016; 65:1445–1452.
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Highlights of the 2011 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) findings on drug-related emergency department visits. The DAWN Report. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2013.

 

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Dr. Donald Cohen, a trusted figure and key opinion leader, has been a licensed and practicing dentist for over 30 years. Additionally, Dr. Cohen has 20 years of teaching experience at Columbia University SDOS, and 20 years as an Attending Dentist at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. With his many years of experience in the field and in the classroom, “Dr. Don” is an expert in the areas of dental compliance, regulations, and best practices.

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