According to a recent report, in 2016, more people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. than the total number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War. In Indiana, opioid overdose deaths rose 52 percent between 2015 and 2016 and have more than doubled in the last three years. Over the same period, we saw drug-related arrests by Indiana State Police increase by more than 40 percent.
There is an opioid epidemic in the United States, including Indiana, and it is something we must be aware of and work together to fix.
What are opioids? Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and more.
Opioids are normally used to relieve pain. They are generally safe to be taken for a short period and with a prescription from a physician. However, opioids also produce euphoria, an intense feeling of happiness or excitement in the brain. This feeling leads to misuse.
Even with a prescription from a physician, regular use of opioids can lead to dependence. When misused, opioid pain relievers can then lead to overdose incidents or even death. It is important to only take these drugs according to the directions of your doctor.
You should also not keep opioids when you are finished using them. Keeping these medications around will allow others to take them accidentally or on purpose. You may also be more likely to use opioids in the future if they are in your home and readily available.
If you or someone you know needs help with dependence on opioid pain relievers, there is help. Eskenazi Health Midtown Community Mental Health has addiction services available to those who need it. Eskenazi Health Midtown Addiction Services provides outpatient care and treatment for clients with addictions to drugs, alcohol or gambling.
The fully integrated, dual-diagnosis treatment includes services for clients with addiction and mental health issues with treatment focusing on the fundamentals of recovery, development of recovery plans and relapse prevention. Individual, group and family therapy, along with case management services, are also provided. Psychiatric services are provided by our addiction psychiatrists and our multi-disciplinary team works together to offer clients a combination of therapies and medications to support recovery and promote overall wellness.
Eskenazi Health Midtown also provides outpatient detoxification, a narcotics treatment program, gambling addiction treatment, specialized treatment for expectant/new mothers and more.
There is also a drug called naloxone that can reverse an opioid overdose when given right away. If you suspect someone has overdosed on opioid pain relievers, call 911 immediately.
It is important to understand the full risks when dealing with opioid pain relievers. Remember what we talked about above and take medication only under the direction of your physician. Even when taking opioids under your physician’s directions, be mindful of opioid dependence and speak with your doctor about those risks.
If you or someone you know needs to seek addiction treatment, call 317.880.8491 or visit www.eskenazihealth.edu/mental-health/addiction-services.
Nydia Nunez-Estrada, M.D.
Eskenazi Health Urgent Care East