Opioid and heroin misuse is a growing epidemic in our country. In 2014, 29,467 people tragically died in the United States because of opioid-related overdoses. In Massachusetts alone, there has been a 63 percent increase in these overdoses since 2012. By learning more about the problem and hearing the stories of those suffering from a substance use disorder, we can work together to stop this crisis.
Opioids are medications that relieve pain. Medications like Vicodin®, OxyContin®, Percocet®, and morphine are usually prescribed for painful conditions, injuries, and surgical procedures.
Regular opioid use can lead to physical dependence and addiction. Some of the warning signs of opioid use disorder can be missing pills or medication bottles, taking more medication than has been prescribed, abrupt changes in finances, dramatic mood changes, or changes in grades, friends, sleep, or appetite. Opioid use disorder can lead to serious medical complications, brain damage, overdose, and death.
Recent national data suggests that people who suffer from opioid use disorder may be more likely to turn to heroin. Heroin is easily available and less expensive.
It's a national initiative aiming to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about substance use disorder.
Bring your unused medication to any of the secure drop-off boxes around the state.Find a drop-off box near you
Don't flush medication down the drain unless the label or accompanying patient information instructs you to do so.
If you throw medication in the trash, remove the medicine from its container, crush the pills, and mix them with coffee grounds or kitty litter. Place the mixture in an unmarked container before throwing it away.
Opioid misuse is a safety and health care quality issue for our members and our community. That’s why we worked with doctors, pharmacists, and outside experts to create our Prescription Pain Medication Safety Program that has successfully reduced the risk of substance use disorder and other potential health issues related to long-term use of opioids.
We've reduced the risk of opioid misuse and use disorder while protecting vulnerable patients. Over a three-year period we:
Eliminated an estimated 21.5 million doses of opioid-based medications in the community.
Reduced claims for long-acting opioids such as OxyContin® by approximately 50 percent by switching patients to short-acting pain treatments.
Stopped 62,000 members from receiving inappropriate levels of acetaminophen.
The Prescription Pain Medication Safety Program:
In addition to promoting substance use disorder prevention, we continue to provide our members with behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment options and services, including:
An extensive network that includes approximately 200 health facilities and 10,000 doctors in a number of different behavioral and mental health specialties.
Developed with researchers at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Life Balance is designed to improve health outcomes for members with behavioral health conditions and significant health conditions.
Integrating medical and behavioral health care.