Clinton Herald Letter to the Editor-01

September is National Pain Awareness month, which includes National Opioid Awareness Day. Chronic pain, pain which lasts for three months or more, can be debilitating and often incurable.

Some ways to manage chronic pain are maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, massage/meditation/yoga, getting plenty of sleep, avoiding tobacco, caffeine and alcohol and joining a pain support group.

Unfortunately, not all natural or non-narcotic pain remedies will work for everyone, which is why some people do turn to opioids to reduce their level of pain. Opioids are a diverse class of strong, addictive and considerably inexpensive prescription drugs which include oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, methadone, codeine and fentanyl. There are a number of adverse risks and effects of using opioids, ranging from depression to nerve damage, dementia and even death.

As a part of National Pain Awareness month, National Opioid Awareness Day is observed this year on Sept. 22. Prescription opioids became a go-to treatment for chronic and acute pain in the late 1990s, but that has had devastating results. Since that time, hundreds of thousands of individuals have died from overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and unfortunately it is still a crisis in this country.

What can we do to help manage the opioid crisis here in Iowa and reduce the number of opioid-related deaths? The first step is to make treatment and recovery support more accessible. The second step is to educate people who are using opioids to use safer practices, such as having someone around when they are using and ensuring Naloxone is available to administer correctly if needed. The last step is to reduce the stigma that reinforces a negative stereotype of people who use drugs, which often prevents individuals with an opioid-use disorder from seeking help.

Area Substance Abuse Council, the Iowa Department of Public Health and Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration are working on the Strategic Initiatives to Prevent Drug Overdoses grant to help battle the opioid overdose issue that affects us as a country but also in Iowa and Clinton County.

ASAC Prevention Specialists continue to provide education on opioids, psychostimulants and administering Naloxone. ASAC also provides trainings on how to break down the stigma associated with opioid abuse, and the recovery process. These trainings are free and available to community groups that are interested in drug-specific education.

If you are interested in a training, please contact ASAC Prevention Office at (319) 390-4611 or prevention@asac.us

Liz Buchholz, Area Substance Abuse Council prevention specialist

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