There's a stigma around addiction and overdose that we, as a community, have to overcome if we want to see growth and recovery.
Stigma: Naloxone (Narcan) is a medication used for treating heroin addicts.
Truth: Naloxone IS often used in heroin overdose situations, and if you love an addict you should carry Naloxone.
But, Naloxone has more than one purpose. Overdose is more than just heroin overdose. If you or a loved one has prescription pain pills, be SAFE. Safe use, safe storage, and safe disposal. Part of being safe is having a prescription of Naloxone available in case of accidental ingestion of opioid pain relievers.
Free Naloxone Training • Receive a Voucher for Naloxone (Narcan)
August 31 at noon C4K will be hosting a Lunch & Learn event. Join us online for a Facebook Live event that will cover the Get Naloxone Now training. Those completing the training will receive a voucher for a free prescription of Naloxone.
The US Department of Health and Human Services through the Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a report this month (August 2017) outlining some key findings about adolescent drug overdose. According to the data from the National Vital Statistics System, drug overdose deaths in US youth aged 15-19 have increased overall since 1999 to 2007, with a decline through 2014, and now back on the incline. Death rates were highest for opioids, specifically heroin.
The report (www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db282.pdf) notes that "the death rate due to drug overdose among adolescents aged 15-19 more than doubled from 1999 to 2007, declined by 26% from 2007 to 2014, and then increased in 2015."
Death rates tripled from 1999-2007; however, rates generally declined from 2007 to 2014 - only to begin rising again in 2015.
As we unite and work toward prevention efforts for our youth and communities, some questions about these trends in youth opioid use may help us guide our efforts.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Report 2006, the "estimated area under illicit opium poppy cultivation decreases by 22 per cent." Could less cultivation area made heroin and other opioids harder to come by?
Alaskan schools were encouraged to utilize a new drug prevention program called "Think Smart Curriculum" according to a 2006 Report that focused on prevention of inhalants and use of harmful legal products. Could focusing on those issues in schools have also prevention opioid use?
In 2015, 772 drug overdose deaths occurred in the same age group. According to an article in the NY Times, overdose deaths are now the leading cause of death for those under the age of 50.
Another report earlier this month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that the number of drug overdoses involving opioids between 2008-2014 was likely underestimated by 24%. It could be that there wasn't much change in that timeframe and we have, unfortunately, seen an uprise overall.
What do you think? Do you remember any significant prevention or family life impacts during 2005-2015? What prevention efforts could help prevent our youth. Are circumstances unique in Alaska and the Kenai Peninsula? Or do national models accurately represent our youth?
We'd love to hear from our community!
In the News:
7 days ago Governor Walker introduced legislation that is designed to change the way opioids are prescribed and monitored. Administrative Order 283 outlines the steps planned to address the growing heroin and opioid issue – declared an epidemic by Governor Walker last month. The state shared data that from 2009 to 2015, the number of heroin-related deaths in Alaska has quadrupled.
Here on the Peninsula:
Change 4 the Kenai has been working toward the prevention of injection drug abuse for over two years. In 2016, we published a Community Behavioral Health Needs Assessment that outlines goals and plans for our projects. Local Kenai Peninsula data clearly demonstrates the rapid growth of admissions for those seeking addiction treatment at Serenity House of Central Peninsula Hospital. While alcohol is and remains the most widely abused drug, the trends of growth for injection drug use is astounding.
According to drugfreeworld.org, an estimated 208 million people worldwide utilize illegal drugs. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that 19.9 Americans used illegal drugs in the month prior to the survey. We all know someone who has been affected by drugs, either directly or indirectly.
While the most commonly used drug in US and Alaska is alcohol, injection drugs like heroin and the non medical use of prescription opioids are becoming more prevalent at an alarming rate. Just last month, Governor Walker addressed this situation with a plan to “build a safer Alaska.” Our communities are recognizing that drug abuse is a large problem and we are stepping up to do something about it. Prevention begins with knowledge.
Why Do People Take Drugs?
“People take drugs because they want to change something about their lives.” There is no one reason why people being using drugs, but some common reasons shared are to
How Do Drugs Work?
Drugs work differently and the amount taken determines the effect. They can affect the body as a stimulant or a sedative. They directly affect the mind.
How Do Drugs Affect the Mind?
Drugs may distort the user’s perception of what is happening around him or her. Some may block all sensations, including pain. They can affect alertness and memory.
“During the whole time I was on drugs I thought I had control over my life and that I had it great. But I destroyed everything I had built up and fought for in my life. I cut ties to all my drug-free friends and my family, so I hadn’t any friends but my drug mates. Every day revolved around one thing: my plan for getting the money I needed for drugs. I would do everything possible to get my amphetamine—it was the only thing in my life.” —Pat
To learn more about drugs, join us for one or all of a 4-part class called COPE: Community Overdose Prevention Education. Classes begin March 23.
“Most Americans know someone with a substance use disorder, and many know someone who has lost or nearly lost a family member as a consequence of substance misuse. Yet, at the same time, few other medical conditions are surrounded by as much shame and misunderstanding as substance use disorders.” – Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health
We tend to have some common understandings about addiction. For example, most people recognize that addiction can happen to anyone. We also see some who are able to overcome or prevent this addiction and may wonder why others have a more difficult time. It is often mistakenly assumed that drug abusers lack willpower or moral principles or that they could simply stop using. The reality is that drug addiction is a complex disease. Drugs change the brain. Brain science has allowed us insight into how drugs work in the brain and have led to advances in addiction treatment.
Drugs are chemicals that impact the communication system of the brain. Drugs such as marijuana and heroin activate neurons by fooling receptors to allow them to attach onto neurons. Because the drug chemicals don’t activate the neurons as a natural neurotransmitter, they cause abnormal messages to be sent through the brain’s communication network. Drugs like cocaine and amphetamines cause the neurons to release large amounts of natural neurotransmitters or prevent the normal brain chemical cycles.
Drugs produce a sense of pleasure because they target the brain’s reward system – flooding the communication and neurotransmitter system with dopamine (a neurotransmitter that is present in the brain in areas that regulate movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings). The overstimulation produces euphoric effects, which reinforce the drug use. This teaches the user to repeat it. Drugs are more addictive than natural rewards because they release 2 to 10 times the amount of dopamine.
“By adopting an evidence-based public health approach, America has the opportunity to take genuinely effective steps to prevent and treat substance-related issues.” - Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health
To learn more about the science of the brain and addiction, join us for part 1 of Change 4 the Kenai’s COPE community schools class series (Thursday at 6pm in Soldotna) and check out these other great resources.
References & More Information
National Institute on Drug Abuse
NIDA: For Teens & Teachers
NIDA: Advancing Addiction Science