Washington State is currently experiencing an opioid abuse and overdose crisis involving prescription opioids and heroin. State government agencies, local health departments, professional groups and community organizations across Washington State have been actively building networks and capacity to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with opioids.
What are opioids?
Opioids bind to specific receptors in the brain that reduce the transmission of pain signals throughout the body. Opioids include:
- prescription pain medications like:
- hydrocodone (Vicodin)
- hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
- meperidine (Demerol)
- morphine (MS Contin)
- oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet)
What causes overdose?
When there is too much opioid in the body, a person can lose consciousness and stop breathing – this is an overdose. An opioid overdose can happen suddenly or come on slowly over a few hours. Without oxygen, a person can die.
Risks for an opioid overdose include:
- Using opioids again after your tolerance has dropped (e.g., like after being in treatment, a hospital, or jail). After a break from opioids, the body can’t handle as much as it did before.
- Taking prescription pain medication more often or in higher doses than prescribed-or using someone else’s prescription pain medication. The dose could be too much.
- Using heroin or pills bought on the street. Heroin and street pills often contain other substances that can be dangerously toxic.
- Using opioids with alcohol or other drugs including sleeping pills, benzodiazepines (“benzos” like Valium and Xanax), cocaine and methamphetamine.
- Any current or chronic illness that weakens the heart or makes it harder to breathe.
- Using opioids alone. You are more likely to die from an overdose if no one is there to help.
- Previous overdose. A person who has overdosed before is more likely to overdose again.
Washington State Overdose Prevention & Response Training
The only video specific to WA State, this training covers overdose risks, the WA State Good Samaritan Law and shows a step-by-step demonstration on what to do in an opioid overdose (including rescue breathing and naloxone).
Disposing of prescription opioids
To protect the environment, never flush medications in the toilet. It is best to return unwanted medications to a safe disposal take-back program. Many police departments throughout Grant County have installed Drug Take Back Boxes. Locations include:
- Moses Lake Police Department
- Quincy Police Department
- Warden Policy Department
- Royal City Policy Department
- Grand Coulee Police Department
- Ephrata Police Department
Questions? Please call GCHD at 509-766-7960