Combating the opioid epidemic

By Abby Moore, Ho-Chunk Nation Pharmacist

You’ve likely heard about the opioid crisis happening in the United States, but do you know how many people that opioids have affected and how many lives have been taken because of them? Drug overdoses are currently the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 years old and the deaths keep rising due to increased opioid use. Last year, overdoses killed more people than guns and car accidents. An overdose occurs about every 9 minutes in the United States. 
So what are opioids and why are they so dangerous? Opioids are medications that come from a poppy plant that was originally used to create opium thousands of years ago. Since then scientists have created similar drugs from the plant such as morphine, heroin, Vicodin, Percocet, and fentanyl. While these drugs are useful to treat pain, there are a lot of problems that they can cause. These medications are highly addictive for some people and, if too much is taken, the person using them can stop breathing. If you go too long without breathing, the brain and other body organs will be damaged, which will lead to death if not treated quickly.
Poppy plant and its latex drops, which is used to make many opiates
So what can you do if you are worried about yourself or someone that you love that is taking one of these medications? If you are worried about the possibility of an overdose, there is a medication that can be used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, called Naloxone. It is available in many formulations including an easy to use nasal spray called Narcan®. This life-saving medication is now available at the pharmacy without a prescription. If you are interested in having this medication, please contact the House of Wellness pharmacy at 608-355-5177.
What if I am currently addicted to opioids or I know someone that is addicted?    If you or someone you know is currently struggling with an opioid addiction, the House of Wellness Pharmacy Coordinator, Ted Hall, offers a service where he treats patients addicted to opioids with a long-acting medication that suppresses cravings called Vivitrol in the outpatient setting. If you are interested in this program for yourself or someone you know, please contact the clinic for more information: Baraboo: 608-355-1240 ext. 5502 or 5509
Black River Falls: 715-284-9851 ext. 5356 or 5355