It all begins with just one step. One act of courage. One honest conversation.
When it comes to preventing opioid misuse, the one who can make a difference is you, said the Coalition of Orcas Youth at a presentation at the Orcas Senior Center on Oct. 28.
The group of four asked at the start of the presentation, what can you do as a grandparent? As a friend? What conversations are necessary to prevent opioid abuse? Kids are 50 percent less likely to use drugs when their elders tell them about the risks.
Opioids are classified as drugs used to reduce pain. Prescription pain relievers prescribed by doctors are oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and many others. Opioids block pain signals and can negatively affect the reward center in the brain by releasing large amounts of dopamine into the body.
What can you do? COY says, find other ways to mitigate pain, suggesting short-term pain relievers such as Tylenol or ibuprofen and cognitive behavioral therapy — a psychological, goal-oriented approach in which patients learn how to modify physical, behavioral and emotional triggers of pain and stress. Suggestions also included exercise, physical therapy and medications for depression or seizures. One attendee found this information helpful, but wanted to know more. She expressed concern for how quick her doctor is to prescribe pain medication.
“Say no to an offering of an opioid,” the coalition suggested, adding that opioid overdoses are prevalent everywhere, and Orcas Island is no exception. An overdose can happen suddenly or come on slowly over the course of a few hours. Without oxygen, the result can be fatal.
COY says every minute counts. If you think someone has overdosed, check for signs, call 911, perform rescue breaths and stay with the person until help arrives.
Most importantly, COY shared best practices for storage and disposal of drugs, including opioids. Lock up your medications and know whether or not your community has a pill drop off. An RX disposal site exists on Orcas, outside the Sheriff’s station off Mt. Baker Rd. It is a completely confidential, no-hassle way to dispose of unused pills safely.
COY said the community is invited to dispose of unused pills in the drug take back box which will be at the senior center on Nov. 15.