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Opi­oid Crisis

The Texas Office of the Attorney General is working to protect Texans from the scourge of opioid painkiller abuse and related overdoses which are devastating families throughout the state.

1,375

Opioid related deaths in Texas in 2016

42,249

Nationwide opioid related deaths in 2016

1999-2015

300,000 died due to opioid abuse

In September 2017, Attorney General Paxton and a bipartisan coalition of 40 other states served investigative subpoenas and additional requests on eight companies that manufacture or distribute highly addictive painkillers.  On May 15, 2018, Texas filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma for violating state laws against deceptive trade practices and misrepresenting the risk of addiction to its painkillers, including OxyContin, to patients and doctors. 

AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that his office filed a consumer protection lawsuit in Travis County District Court against Purdue Pharma for violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) involving the company’s prescription opioids, including OxyContin. The attorneys general of five other states took similar legal action today against the Stamford, Connecticut-based pharmaceutical giant.

FAQ

What are Opioids?

Prescription and illegal opioids are the main driver of drug overdose deaths, which have quadrupled in the U.S. since 1999.

Opioids are natural or synthetic chemicals that reduce feelings of pain. Common prescription opioids include:

  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin)
  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Methadone
  • Fentanyl

Are Opioids Necessary?

If you’re prescribed an opioid, the best approach is to try the lowest possible dose in the smallest quantity. Opioids should only be used when necessary and only for as long as necessary. Generally, for acute pain, opioids are often used for three days or less; more than seven days of use is rarely needed.

Before taking opioid medication for chronic pain:

  • Discuss with your doctor pain treatment options, including ones that do not involve prescription drugs.
  • Tell your doctor about your medical history and if you or anyone in your family has a history of substance misuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol.
  • Discuss all of the risks and benefits of taking prescription opioids.
  • Even though a doctor prescribes them, taking prescription opioids can result in addiction.

Talking openly with your health care provider will help to make sure you’re getting care that is safe, effective, and right for you. Set up a follow-up appointment with your doctor to reevaluate your pain and, if you have been taking opioids for more than a few days, give you guidance on the best way to cope with possible withdrawal symptoms when you stop.

Will I Get Addicted to Opioids?

Anyone who takes prescription opioids can become addicted to them. You may also develop tolerance—meaning that over time you might need higher doses to relieve your pain, putting you at higher risk for a potentially fatal overdose. You can also develop physical dependence—meaning you have withdrawal symptoms when the medication is stopped.

Tell your doctor about your medical history and if you or anyone in your family has a history of substance misuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol. Also, never take opioids in higher amounts or more often than prescribed.

The Risks of Opioids

Learn more about Opioids from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

(Source: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/patients/faq.html)


How to Dispose of Prescription Opioids

According to the Centers for Disease Control, most people who abuse prescription opioids get them for free from a friend or relative. However, those who are at highest risk of overdose (using prescription opioids nonmedically 200 or more days a year) get them in ways that are different from those who use them less frequently. These people get opioids from friends or relatives for free (26 percent), buy them from friends or relatives (23 percent), or buy from a drug dealer (15 percent). Those at highest risk of overdose are about four times more likely than the average user to buy the drugs from a dealer or other stranger.

Some people are first introduced to prescription opioids by borrowing or stealing them from a relative or acquaintance.  Help deter this possibility by returning unused opioids to a drug return kiosk or by disposing of the opioids safely and effectively through Walmart’s Free DisposeRx and Walgreens Medication Disposal Locations.

This link is to the DEA website where you can search for a place near you in Texas to dispose of opioids. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also offers opioid disposal tips.


What to do in Case of an Overdose

Opioid overdose can result in respiratory depression and death.  Naloxone is a drug that can reverse the respiratory depression and death. It is readily available at pharmacies.

In case of a respiratory arrest secondary to opioids, call 911, give naloxone, and begin CPR. Signs of an opioid overdose may include any of the following:

  • Small, constricted “pinpoint pupils”
  • Falling asleep or loss of consciousness
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Choking or gurgling sounds
  • Limp body
  • Pale, blue, or cold skin

Learn more from the Harm Reduction Coalition on responding to an opioid overdose.


Reporting Opioid Trafficking to Law Enforcement

Help fight the opioid crisis. Report illicit trafficking in opioids to your local law enforcement agency, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency’s RX Abuse Online Reporting page, or Crime Stoppers’ RXPATROL.

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