Health and Wellness: It’s time to remember, time to act

Ann Cochran - Dallas County Health Department
Special to Dallas County News and Perry Chief

International Overdose Awareness Day was celebrated on Aug. 31. Accidental overdose of opioids has touched our communities, maybe your family. 

Opioid is a general name for natural or synthetic drugs that come from or mimic the opium poppy. These include oxycodone, morphine, codeine, heroin, fentanyl, methadone and opium. 

Sometimes individuals are prescribed pain medications by a doctor or dentist and become dependent. When their health care provider no longer renews the prescription, some patients turn to “borrowing” pills from others or buying whatever they can to dull their pain. Opioids produce feelings of relaxation and pleasure, while slowing breathing and heart rate. 

Using nonprescribed and unregulated opioids can lead to using ever-increasing amounts to achieve the desired result. These powerful drugs can slow breathing and heart function to deadly rates. 

The American Dental Association urges dental professionals to prescribe alternatives to opioids for pain relief. Dentists may consider prescribing non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs alone or in combination with acetaminophen over opioids as first-line therapy for acute pain management. If opioids are prescribed, the limit should be seven days. ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2021-archive/august/international-overdose-awareness-day-remembers-without-stigma-those-who-have-died 

The American Public Health Association recognizes International Overdose Awareness Day to remember without stigma persons who died and acknowledge the grief of their family and friends. apha.org/Events-and-Meetings/APHA-Calendar/2021/International-Overdose-Awareness-Day