Your community will be instrumental in combating the opioid overdose epidemic at home and across the country. By participating in the first wave of The HEALing Communities Study, you are helping to bring hope and healing to neighbors near and far. Thank you for taking part in this initiative.
Stigma is the disapproval of, or discrimination against, a person based on a negative stereotype. Stigma often affects how people with opioid use disorder are treated, making it difficult for them to find jobs, places to live, and medical care. Even if unintentional, the hurtful words and actions of others can keep people who are struggling with addiction from getting help and staying in treatment for as long as they need it.
Many Americans incorrectly view opioid use disorder as a moral weakness or character flaw. In fact, it is a brain disease that can be treated.
Stigma leads some people to believe that taking medicine for opioid use disorder is “replacing one drug for another” and “not real recovery.” In fact, people who take FDA-approved medicines like buprenorphine (Suboxone®), naltrexone (Vivitrol®), and methadone are more likely to stay in recovery and enjoy healthy, productive lives.
The myth that addiction is a lack of willpower stops people from seeing their doctors and getting treatment that can help them rebuild their lives, relationships, and health.
As a result of harmful attitudes and stereotypes, people with addictions often face devastating consequences like discrimination in employment, loss of housing, and poor treatment from health care professionals.
Fear of being judged or discriminated against can keep people from getting the help they need and increase their chances of dying from an overdose.
You can make a difference by creating a stigma-free environment in your family, community, workplace, and/or health care setting.
Naloxone (also known as Narcan®) is a medicine that can save someone’s life if they are overdosing on opioids—whether it’s a prescription opioid pain medicine, heroin, or a drug containing fentanyl.
It is not a treatment for opioid addiction. Naloxone quickly blocks and reverses the effects of an overdose. You can tell it is working because it quickly helps a person breathe normally.
Signs of an opioid overdose include:
Carry naloxone with you every day. You can be a first responder. You can save a life.
For more information on laws that protect people who prescribe, carry, and use naloxone, please visit the Prescription Drug Abuse Policy System website.
Anyone—including you—can give naloxone to someone who is overdosing from a prescription opioid pain medicine, heroin or a drug containing fentanyl. Narcan® nasal spray is a ready-to-use, needle-free medicine that can be used without any special training. Narcan® requires no assembly and is sprayed into one nostril while the person lays on their back. The naloxone spray is small and can fit in your pocket, purse, or glove compartment.
Carrying naloxone does not mean that you encourage people to use opioids or other drugs. It just means that you don’t want them to die from an overdose. Naloxone is not addictive and cannot be used to get high. Actually, it can cause withdrawal.
If you have a family member or loved one who struggles with opioid addiction, you should have naloxone nearby. You should also ask your family and friends to carry it and should let them know where your naloxone is in case they need to use it.
People who previously used opioids and have stopped are at higher risk for an overdose. This includes people who have completed a detox program or have recently been released from jail, a residential treatment center, or the hospital. These people now have a lower tolerance for opioids and can overdose more easily.
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