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LCSW and sister of OUD victim

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Greetings from NC. I am a clinical social worker primarily working with adolescents in a wilderness therapy setting (short-term residential acute care). I lost my brother to the opioid epidemic last year and am seeking to learn more about the policy changes necessary to support scientific institutions and evidence based practices needed to end this crisis. My brother's story is all too familiar and I am sure we all know the feeling of being helpless in eliciting change where change is not desired. Like many young men, he was prescribed opioids for pain management after an injury and became addicted. I am seeking resources to learn about each "step" of the opioid crisis to better understand where we continually exacerbate the issue rather than solve it: from prescription management, to education, to harm reduction based recovery/management programs. Thank you for your guidance!

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  • 2 months later...

I am really sorry about you losing him. It's really sad how many people we lose to SUD. 

To respond to the topics you mentioned:

--prescription management: Overprescribing opioids is a common way that teens and young adults start using them (either their own Rx or trying out a family member's Rx that is sitting around). Safe storage of meds in a locked box would be ideal, as well as disposal services. Also when doctors, NPs, PAs rapidly taper people from Rx opioids, some people switch to heroin and OD that way (Including fentanyl contamination). So teaching clinicians about the risks of ending Rx's and how to use findtreatment.gov to give patients access to bup could help save lives. 

 --education. Educate clinicians. But also teach the public how to see what their own risk factors are, signs of developing a problem, and who has so much risk that abstinence is really the only safe choice.  

--harm reduction based recovery/management programs. I think we need Public Health Injection Sites where people can have OD reversed, and we can offer them clean syringes and needles, access to primary care, and treatment referrals. Also, teaching people how to watch each other for safety. Fentanyl OD happens much faster than heroin OD so people need to be in the same room with one person not yet using. If narcan is given, the person still needs to go to the ER because fentanyl lasts long and when the narcan wears off, they can die. 

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