by Amanda Conschafter, blog editor
A new initiative has an important message for pain patients: Every second counts after accidental opioid overdoses, so be prepared. “America Starts Talking” suggests learning the facts about accidental opioid overdose, discussing safety with one’s physician and even keeping anti-overdose drug naloxene on hand at home.
As the initiative’s website explains:
- Opioid overdose can occur even when patients take their medications as prescribed
- Forty-four people die of opioid overdoses every day, and more than 80 percent of those deaths are accidental
- Overdoses account for roughly 136,000 emergency room visits each year
- 3,300 children go to the emergency room every year for accidental exposure to prescription opioids.
Understanding risks, such as the potential for interaction between prescription opioids and alcohol or anti-anxiety medications, can help. The initiative seeks to do this through its educational video and also its true-or-false “Opioid Knowledge Challenge.”
But patients should also discuss safety precautions with their prescribing physician. In particular, they may want to consider the value of having naloxene, the anti-overdose drug, in their home as a precaution. Most opioid emergencies occur in the home, the website notes, and loss of oxygen to the brain may lead to brain injury in as few as four minutes.
With naloxene on hand, family members can help restore a patient’s breathing immediately and then seek medical care. By contrast, an average emergency room wait is nine minutes, during which patients without naloxene run the risk of brain injury.
America Starts Talking is sponsored by Kaléo and supported by the U.S. Pain Foundation, the American Chronic Pain Association, The Pain Community and the American Academy of Pain Management.