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Overdose Prevention and Treatment

Opioid Abuse and Overdose Epidemic

Opioid overdose continues to be a significant public health concern in America. Misuse of prescription opioids (hydrocodone, morphine, hydromorphone, oxycodone, etc) as well as illicit substances such as heroin have resulted in increased opioid-related poisoning deaths. Indian Country is not immune to this medical crisis. The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) survey suggests a health disparity regarding past year nonmedical use of pain relievers among persons aged 12 and older between person identifying as 'not Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native' (7.8% vs. 4.8%)1. This data suggests increased use prevalence in our communities. Additionally, the CDC has reported an all-population doubling of drug overdose death between 1999 and 2013-with 51.8% related to pharmaceuticals (71% involving opioid analgesics and 31% involving benzodiazepines)2,3.

Opioid overdose prevention continues to be a hallmark of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic strategy. Clinicians have many tools available to mitigate harm from prescription and illicit opioid overdose. These tools include responsible prescribing practices; optimized patient monitoring through use of routine PDMP data as well as urine drug testing; and providing early access to naloxone to treat opioid overdose.


1) Population Data / NSDUH. Accessed January 15, 2015.

2) Chen LH, Hedegaard H, Warner M. Drug-poisoning deaths involving opioid analgesics: United States, 1999-2011. NCHS data brief, no 166. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2014 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving .

3) Content source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention