Opioid misuse is becoming increasingly prevalent in the United States. The current opioid crisis has serious implications for public health and for social and economic welfare.
Many people have a personal connection to opioid misuse. More than half of Americans know someone who has taken a prescription painkiller that was not prescribed to them, know someone who has been addicted, or know someone who has died from prescription opioid overdose.
As such, it is important for people who are addicted to opioids to be able to get help.
The increase in opioid overdose1 deaths is one of our nation’s largest public health concerns. Opioids are responsible for over 49,000 drug overdose1 deaths in the U.S. every year. More than 60% of drug overdose deaths involve some type of opioid.
The “opioid crisis” refers to the increased use of prescription and non-prescription opioid1 drugs for pain management in the U.S. The crisis started in the late 1990s and continues today. As prescriptions for these medications rose, addiction to opioids increased.
Opioids are drugs that reduce pain. Common opioids include:
Prescription opioids are usually safe when prescribed for a short time. Opioids are very addictive when they are taken for too long or misused. Opioid misuse includes:
Even when used correctly, pain medications (like opioids) can result in addiction. Addictive substances change the way the brain works. They affect the areas of the brain that regulate:
People can often feel ill when the drug effects wear off. This is commonly called “withdrawal.” It can make it hard to stop taking the medication. Over time, the user may also feel the need to take higher doses to experience the original relief.
There are many effective treatments for managing addiction, like medication and counseling. Together, these two treatments can often help people control their addiction.
Besides addiction and overdose, opioids can cause other side effects. These side effects can occur even when opioids are taken as directed by a doctor. Some common side effects include:
Naloxone (“Narcan”) reverses the life-threatening effects of an opioid overdose. Some people use opioids to manage serious pain. To support the same use of opioids, CCA provides all members access to Narcan at no cost. You don’t need an opioid or Narcan prescription to get it. Just ask for Narcan at your pharmacy and show the pharmacist your CCA member ID card. Your care partner can train you on how to use it. There is no shame in getting Narcan. It saves lives.
Yes! Talk with your doctor about other types of care that might help you. These might include non-opioid medications or other treatment. Treatment such as physical therapy, aqua therapy, massage therapy, and acupuncture may be appropriate as well. CCA may cover these benefits, if:
Opioids could be addictive for anyone. Some people might have more risk for opioid addiction than others. Talk to your doctor and CCA care team about your risk. Someone may be considered “at-risk” for misuse or addiction if they:
If you are in recovery from addiction and need surgery, your CCA care team can help you safely use opioids during your recovery from surgery to manage pain. They can work with your doctors and provide the support you need to restart any addiction medication you were taking before surgery.
If you have other questions that aren’t answered here, please talk to your care partner or call Member Services at 866-610-2273 (TTY 711). If you receive a letter from CCA about your opioid use and have questions, please talk to your CCA care partner.
The opioid crisis affects everyone. We can all do our part to end the epidemic by recognizing the signs of opioid misuse and helping those who are struggling get the care and resources they need to overcome their addiction.
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