A bottle with a hydrocodone (the generic name for drug sold under other names by various pharmaceutical companies) label and hydrocodone tablets spilling out isolated on white background. Hydrocodone is a popular prescription semi-synthetic opioid that is used to treat moderate to severe pain. Hydrocodone is said to be one of the most common recreational prescription drugs in America.

LET’S TALK ABOUT…GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS ON THE PROGRESS OF THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC!! The opioid epidemic is REAL. It is important for all my readers to understand that the epidemic doesn’t necessarily live on the streets and isn’t limited to illegal drugs.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that there were 10,574 overdose deaths related to illegal opioids in 2014, compared to 18,893 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers.

A family member reported these behaviors in their loved one that was abusing doctor prescribed drugs: tried to commit suicide, taken by ambulance to hospital—admitted and weaned over five days as a hospital patient; refused drug treatment. All drugs taken out of home; she found them and stole them back. Failed a UA with her primary physician; she claimed her significant other was giving them to her without her knowing it. Again, she refused addiction treatment yelling “I am NOT an addict!” Some of her family backed her up saying that she was only taking medications that were prescribed by her doctor–they neglected to acknowledge the prescriptions were prior to her overdose.

This is not a “street person”. This is a 60 year old professional woman, who dresses to the nine’s, and, is involved on committees to make our community better. She is one of “you” reading this column.


GOOD NEWS! In December 2015, both the Democratic and Republican Senators from New Hampshire,–the epicenter of the epidemic–submitted the “Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act”. In the midst of a chaotic Presidential election, this bipartisan supported Bill to address the opioid epidemic was passed and sent to President Obama for approval.


A few important points from this Bill that addresses some of the needs to reduce the epidemic:

  • Presently special licensed physician are allowed to prescribe and oversee the medications needed to treat patients that are chronically addicted to drugs such as heroin, morphine, oxycodone, and others. One of the problems is that each physician is only allowed 100 patients. This Bill would allow Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants to prescribe and monito patients. The Bill also creates a grant to expand this type of medication assisted treatment.
  • The Bill would expand the access to the drug “naloxone” and who could administer it. Naloxone is given to individuals that have overdosed and are at the brink of death. It is presently administered by first responders. The Bill asks for expansion to all law enforcement and, possibly, getting it into the hands of family and friends.
  • Presently the “Prescription Drug Monitoring” program is overseen by physicians; it would expand the monitoring to include Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants.
  • Most of all, this Bill expands treatment and prevention education to include medical professionals, educators, teens, young adults as well as families.


BAD NEWS!!! This is an election year. While the Bill has passed, the appropriations committee  does not share a bipartisan effort to provide funding for CARA. The US fiscal year runs from Oct 1 through Sept 30. Since the debate has been put on hold until after the elections, funding will probably take two more years.

We all need to be involved in fighting this epidemic. YOU can help by educating yourself on the facts and contacting YOUR local officials. How many of YOUR family members have been inflicted?

Glad we talked about this. Of course, it is just my opinion.



Springfield Times

“Ask MAx” is published weekly in the Springfield Times, Springfield, OR. You can subscribe to the Springfield Times at


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