Wellness Wednesday: Opioid Misuse Prevention

Opioid misuse and addiction is still a major problem that the community needs to address
Posted at 10:22 AM, Aug 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-23 12:22:05-04

With the last day of August being Opioid Misuse Prevention Day, Good Morning Idaho anchor Matt Sizemore joined Regence Blue Shield of Idaho Executive Medical Director, Dr. Daniel Meltzer to discuss the problems associated with the misuse of opioids.

Meltzer says the U.S. has seen over 100,000 overdose deaths per year with 75% of those involving opioids.

While Idaho has seen a slight decrease in deaths, our neighboring states, including Nevada, Washington, and Oregon, are still on the rise.

"Despite ongoing public service campaigns, warning of the danger of misuse of opioids, more than 10 million people misused their opioid prescriptions in the past year alone," said Meltzer.

These are sobering statistics. When asked about why these numbers are so high, Meltzer pointed to how common legal prescriptions are.

"Many people don't understand or appreciate the danger of opioids because they're legally prescribed by a clinician. Many people keep these medications at home, for example, after they've used what they need, they stick around, which can lead to other people either purposely or inadvertently using them," Meltzer said.

He continued that this, paired with the highly addictive nature of opioids, is a large part of the problem.

Meltzer mentions that increasing awareness and educating people to only take medications for as long are they are prescribed, or to seek alternative painkillers are among the steps that can be taken to address the problem.