Partners in education join forces against opioid epidemic

Person grabbing bottle of medicine

Gov’t entities urge #SafeUse, #SafeDisposal and #SafeStorage to deter opioid misuse among youth

OLYMPIA, APRIL 19, 2017 — In 2015, an average 60 Washingtonians died each month from opioid overdose, including heroin and/or pharmaceutical, and heroin overdose deaths have more than doubled between 2010 and 2015, even as deaths involving pharmaceutical opioids have declined.

Supported by an executive order issued by Gov. Jay Inslee on October 7, 2016, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) with other state agencies and partners, and school districts have joined together to create and launch an education campaign for parents to prevent opioid misuse and abuse in their families.

“I encourage parents and lawmakers to recognize the harmful impact prescription opioid abuse can have on Washington teens and their futures,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal. “Addiction is an epidemic that we need to address together, as parents and educators.”

More about Opioids

Substance use disorder can begin with a legal prescription for painkillers, with leftover medication shared to alleviate a friend’s pain, or with a child’s access to an unlocked medicine cabinet.

Oxycodone, hydrocodone and codeine are a few examples of prescription opioids, while heroin is anillicit opioid. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nationwide deaths from prescription opioids have more than quadrupled since 1999.  Addiction to prescription opioids can often lead to heroin addiction.  In Washington, 57% of heroin users were addicted to pharmaceutical opioids first.

The rise in opioid misuse, use disorder and overdose is strongly connected to the dramatic increase of prescriptions by health care providers.  Washington state agencies have responded by supporting efforts to reduce overprescribing opioids, in addition to other community and state prevention work supported by the state’s Substance Abuse Prevention and Mental Health Promotion Strategic Plan.  In fact, the rates of Washington 10th graders using prescription painkillers to get high have decreased from 10 percent in 2006 to 4 percent in 2016.

However, prevention efforts continue to be critical.  The recent release of 2016 Washington Healthy Youth Survey data showed that 8 percent of 10th graders still reported they had used prescription pain pills that were not prescribed to them.

The Opioid Awareness Campaign

As directed by the Governor, the OSPI, Educational Service District 112, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, Department of Health, Department of Labor and Industries and the University of Washington have collaborated to build a social media toolkit designed to inform parents, caregivers, and other influential adults of the dangers of prescription opioid misuse among teens.  The campaign will highlight the need for #SafeUse, #SafeStorage and #SafeDisposal of prescription opioids, as well as the power of parents to prevent teen drug abuse.

The toolkit to participate in the campaign is located here:  www.starttalkingnowtoolkit.org

Resources

The awareness campaign launches today, April 19, in advance of the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 29 and will run over the next six weeks before the school year’s end.

Find your local “Take Back Your Meds” events happening here.

Find resources for parents here: www.StartTalkingNow.org/rx

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