All About Opioids
A National Opioid Epidemic
In 2011, the White House launched a multi-agency plan to address the drug abuse problem in this country. Chief among the drugs misused and abused in non-medical situations are opioids, prescription pain relievers derived from the narcotic opium.
These drugs are commonly used to treat all types of acute and chronic pain nationwide. They’ve also been responsible for an increasing number of overdose deaths throughout the last 15 years.
Great strides have been made to end opioid abuse in this country. In Linn, Benton, and Lincoln counties in Oregon, the healthcare system has been overhauled with new prescription guidelines for opioids in an effort to curb the misuse of these dangerous drugs.
Different Types of Opioids
The first step to ending the epidemic is awareness. Let’s start demystifying opioids by pointing out the most common forms they are prescribed in, and the particular dangers with each:
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco)
- Oxycodone (Percocet, Oxycontin)
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
- Tramadol (Ultram)
Naloxone for Opioid Overdose Reversal
High dosages of opioids cause respiratory depression, which can lead to overdose and death.
There is a short window during the overdose where the drug naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, can reverse the overdose and save someone’s life. Naloxone can be obtained by prescription in the state of Oregon. It is also frequently carried by firefighters, law enforcement, and other first responders.
Hop over to this page on emergency opioid overdose reversal to learn more.
Oregon naloxone access and Good Samaritan laws
Oregon law allows you to carry and use naloxone on others. According to the Oregon Health Authority website:
It's very important that you call 911 any time someone has a drug overdose. If you use naloxone, the effects are temporary and the person still needs medical attention. After the medication wears off, the person could fall back into a coma.
If you call police or 911 to get help for someone having a drug overdose, Oregon law protects you from being arrested or prosecuted for drug-related charges or parole/probation violations based on information provided to emergency responders. Read the law (pdf).
Laws vary from state to state
Oregon is one of about fifteen states that have naloxone access and Good Samaritan laws. If you’re not located in Oregon, be sure to check the laws governing your state by contacting local law enforcement or your physician.
Visit LawAtlas.org’s interactive map to check the naloxone access and Good Samaritan laws in your state.