Fentanyl and Opioid Addiction Prevention – Strategies for Families and Communities

Community leaders, local and regional organizers, non-profit organizations, law enforcement, public health professionals and members of the general public can all benefit from prevention strategies and will help them understand and navigate the best approaches to address the opioid crisis and prevent opioid overdoses and deaths in their communities.

We must all share responsibility for the treatment and prevention of opioid use disorder. Here are some reasons why it’s crucial for families to have access to resources and treatments they require, including assistance with drug addiction treatment.

Overview of the Problem

The 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 2.7 million people had an opioid use disorder and that 9.5 million people aged 12 or older had misused opioids in the previous year.

The likelihood that any of these people start abusing opioids or develop an opioid use disorder is decreased by effective prevention.

It is unknown how effectively these tactics perform in preventing opioid abuse or opioid use disorder, despite the fact that there are many successful methods for preventing substance use disorders.

Preventive measures that can be applied in settings and systems that reach the populations most impacted by the opioid crisis are particularly needed.

It is challenging for organizations and public systems to make preventative services available to everyone who might benefit due to ongoing difficulties with establishing, scaling up and maintaining prevention initiatives.

Preventing Opioid Addiction – Strategies for Communities

Increased Naloxone Distribution – When used promptly, the non-addictive medication naloxone can reverse the consequences of an opioid overdose.

Targeted naloxone distribution initiatives aim to educate and provide naloxone kits to those who are most likely to experience or witness an overdose, mostly drug users and first responders, so they can use them in an emergency to save lives.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) and Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD)
MAT is a proven treatment for opioid use disorder and uses FDA approved medications.

Methadone and buprenorphine activate opioid receptors in the brain, which prevent the painful withdrawal symptoms without causing euphoria and naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids.

Syringe Services Programs (SSPs) – In addition to connecting participants to substance use disorder treatment, these community-based prevention programs also offer testing, treatment for infectious diseases, access to sterile syringes and injection equipment and connections to medical, mental health and social services.

Academic Detailing – this consists of structured visits to healthcare providers by trained professionals to provide tailored training and assistance to improve practices and help healthcare providers implement and use best practices.

911 Good Samaritan Laws – Various States in the US have different Good Samaritan Laws, but they are all intended to make it easier for people to call 911 in the event of an overdose.

This kind of legislation may offer limited protection against drug-related criminal prosecutions and other criminal or judicial repercussions that could otherwise follow from calling first responders to the scene to overdose victims and/or overdose spectators.

Preventing Opioid Addiction – Strategies for Families

Opioid addiction tears families apart. Loved ones are being arrested and sent to jail for buying or selling opioids. Parents may not be able to care for their children any longer.

Relationships are destroyed. Financial burdens affect families as well. Overdoses and deaths are devastating families. 

Store Prescriptions and Dispose Properly – Opioids and other prescription medications should be stored safely and out of the way. You should keep track of how many medicines you have and lock them away.

Do not share medications or allow family members access to these drugs. Nearly half of the individuals aged 2 and older who used painkillers non-medically in 2021 reported getting them from a friend or relative.

You should bring any leftover medications back to the clinic, doctor’s office or drugstore. 

Talk about Drug Use – Children who learn about the risks of drugs at home are less likely to use drugs. 

Share information on the dangers of alcohol and drugs and continue reinforcing rules and expectations about their usage.

Ensure that your child is aware of the legal ramifications of sharing opioid prescriptions. Make sure they know the dangers of fentanyl and the dangers of other drugs being at risk of containing it. 

Interventions – Interventions bring people together to confront their loved one and talk about how their addiction is affecting them and put boundaries in place such as limiting or cutting off communication, no longer giving money, etc.

The purpose is for the loved one to agree to go to treatment. Interventions are most successful when led by the professional help of an interventionist who is trained to navigate the situation.

Interventions are useful when people have admitted they have a problem but are refusing to get help.

Support Groups / Family Therapy – Participating in support groups and family therapy will offer much needed education and support to family members.

Addiction is a family issue and affects the entire family so treatment needs to be inclusive to the needs of the family unit, not just the person who is using the drugs.

It has been proven that when families participate in therapy, groups and aftercare programs, the success rates are much higher. 

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