by Tara Walker
Three community Opioid presentations were given in Winter Park, Granby and Kremmling in October and a free catered dinner was provided while attendees learn about opioid myths from the Colorado Consortium for Drug Abuse Prevention, smart medication use from Allison Conner and Samantha Darbonne with Safeway Pharmacy, pain management from Joletta Belton with EpiColorado, and local treatment options from Katie Hornbaker with Middle Park Health.
Free med lockboxes and NARCAN were available at the presentations. NARCAN (naloxone HCl) Nasal Spray is the first and only FDA-approved nasal form of naloxone for the emergency treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose and counteracts the effects of an opioid overdose. Attendees were offered instructions on the use of NARCAN and were advised to lock up medications and if any medications were leftover, to dispose of them at a drop box. Three drop boxes are in Grand County for the disposal of medications and are located at the Grand County Sheriff’s office, the Granby Police Department and Fraser/Winter Park Police Department.
Opioids include controlled substances for pain like codeine and hydrocodone and morphine. Belton explained that acetaminophen and ibuprofen can often be effective, but sometimes opioids are the recommended option. Belton, explained “When looking at data, alternating acetaminophen with ibuprofen gives better pain relief than opioids.”
When opioids are used, a shorter period of time is recommended to reduce the chances of addiction. The longer opioids are used, the more likely for misuse or addiction and that is why it is so important to explore other options for pain medication especially if there is a predilection for addiction. 70% of people that are surveyed after getting treatment for a substance abuse disorder report that they first got it from the medicine cabinet from a friend’s house or from their own cabinet. Opioid free Anesthesia is now a good option for many surgeries, you just need to talk to the anesthesiologist about options.
“There is lots of misinformation about the opioid epidemic. Myth #1 is that medicine can take away all pain. Unfortunately, this is not true. The goal of Pain Management should be trying to help improve functioning. Managing your pain down to a level where you can engage in daily activities is the goal, but it doesn’t mean that you will be pain-free entirely. Zero pain is not a realistic goal and has fueled the opioid epidemic,” explained Joletta Belton with Endless Possibilities Initiative (EpiColorado).
Samantha Darbonne with Safeway Pharmacy recommends locking away controlled substances and do not mix medications or share prescriptions. Darbonne told attendees that they should not flush medications down the sink or toilet and asked they dispose of drugs at a drop box.
NARCAN instructions require you to first assess the situation. Symptoms of overdose include blue lips, cold to the touch, nausea and vomiting and shaking. Here are the steps to follow if you feel someone is experiencing an overdose. First, stimulate them awake by yelling their name or rubbing their chest or pressing knuckles into sternum. Place them on their side and call 911 immediately. Then administer NARCAN if you have it. NARCAN is available pharmacies without a prescription and is usually covered by insurance.
For assistance and help these sites were recommended – retrainpain.org, Colorado State Crisis Services Hotline 844-493-8255 or text TALK to 38255 and RoadtoRecoveryColorado.com