Opiate Awareness Campaign

Opioid Awareness Campaign

Mission Statement:

  • Promoting public awareness of an increasing epidemic in prescription drug abuse in particular Opioid abuse.
  • Promoting the prevention and treatment of Opioid abuse and supports the recovery of individuals affected by the chronic disease of addiction.


According to National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, “opioids are strong prescription painkillers used by doctors to treat serious and chronic pain. Commonly abused painkillers include OxyCotin, Vicodin, fentanyl, Darvon, Dilaudid, codeine, Demerol, Percoset, and Percodan.” (How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid, 2009)

Dopamine is the chemical in the brain that is tied to our experience of pleasure. The basic brain process looks something like this: a person takes a drug and dopamine (the brain chemical that makes you feel good) is released; the brain says “hey, we have way too much dopamine in here”, and thus dopamine receptors are reduced. Once the person becomes abstinent, she/he has fewer dopamine receptors, and as a result, feels less pleasure about day-to-day activities while living the sober life. This decreased ability to feel pleasure in the initial months of sobriety is one of the main factors contributing to relapse.

The following facts illustrate the new face of addiction, prescription medication.

Who and how many are abusing?

  • According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2008 
    • approximately 2 million Americans were dependent on opioid prescription painkillers or heroin.
    • An estimated 4.75 million people aged 12 and older misused prescription painkillers
    • Approximately 213,000 people used heroin
    • The number of people who admit abusing controlled prescription drugs increased from 7.8 million in 1992 to 15.1 million in 2003 – by 94 percent–seven times faster than the increase in the U.S. population. (CASA, 2006)
    • In 2003, 15.1 million people in the U.S. admitted abusing prescription drugs – more than the combined number who admits abusing cocaine (5.9 million), hallucinogens (4.0 million), inhalants (2.1 million) and heroin (.3 million) combined. (CASA, 2006)

How many prescription abusers are dying?

  • Mortality rates for Opioid abuse are currently four to five times higher than heroin epidemic in the mid- 1970s and more than three times what they were during the peak years of crack cocaine epidemic in the early 1990s. (Unintentional Overdose Deaths in Notrth Carolina Medicaid Population, 2010)
  • The CDC reports in 2006 the following sixteen states reported drug-related deaths (40 percent directly due to opioid analgesics) exceeded traffic fatalities. They are: Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
  • Drug overdose deaths were second only to motor vehicle crash deaths among leading causes of unintentional injury death in 2007 in the United States.(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010)

Teens and Opioid Abuse?

  •  According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, in 2006 more than 2.1 million teens abused prescription drugs and most teens get these drugs from friends and family.
  • According to the some of the latest drug usage trend reports, illicit drug use is declining for teens. Unfortunately, the use of prescription drug abuse is increasing and is currently being abused more than any illicit drug except marijuana. Prescription drugs are being abused more than heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine combined. (Teen Prescription Drug Abuse: An Emerging Threat, 2008)
    CDC and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reviewed the most recent 5 years of available data (2004 – 2008) on Emergency Room visits involving the nonmedical use of prescription drugs from SAMHSA’s Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). The report showed that the estimated number of Emergency Room visits for nonmedical use of opioid analgesics increased 111% during 2004 – 2008 (from 144,600 to 305,900 visits). The highest numbers of ED visits were recorded for oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone. For the year 2008, rates for opioids increased sharply after age 17 years, peaked in the 21 – 24 years age group.(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010)
  • More than a decade of Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University research has consistently found that the more often children have dinner with their parents, the less likely they are to smoke, drink, or use drugs. Refer to table 1.(How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid, 2009)
 Table 1. Percentage of 12- to 17-Year-Olds Who Have Used Substances

0 – 2 family dinners/week

5 – 7 family dinners/week










Prescription Drugs



Other Drugs



CASA. The Importance of Family Dinners IV (2007)


The goal of treatment is to promote opioid abusers from discontinuing the abuse of opioid-related drugs and regain control of day-to-day functions. Several medications exist to help start the path free of abuse. Along with medication, the support received from counseling/therapy and strong support from family and friends will allow for recovery. Also, nutritional factors must be examined and deficiencies replaced. Lastly, the Spiritual component must be understood both from a metaphysical perspective as well as an endogenous one.  Biological-Psychological-Social-Spiritual-Financial needs should be considered for increasing the likelihood of successful maintenance treatment.

Medication- Assisted Treatment : (Department of Human Services Division of Addiction Services in NJ)

  • Suboxone ( Subutex)
  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine


Facts about the medications: (Department of Human Services Division of Addiction Services in NJ)

  • Studies and randomized clinical trials have shown that buprenorphine as well as methadone is an efficacious and safe medication for opioid addiction treatment.
  • A study published by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment reported that 60% of people taking buprenorphine were abstinent from all drugs after 30 days of treatment, while 59% were abstinent from all drugs after 6 months in treatment.
  • Buprenorphine, in the form of Suboxone and Subutex, was approved by the FDA in October 2002 for the treatment of opiate dependence, medical maintenance and medically supervised detoxification.
  • Methadone maintenance is effective in reducing illicit opiate drug use, in reducing crime, in enhancing social productivity, and in reducing the spread of viral diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis