Opioid Addiction: Keys to Prevention and Intervention from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

Photo of Opioid Addiction ME guest, Ahmed EidWe all have read the heartbreaking stories of young people’s lives destroyed by opioid addiction, and most of us probably have a family member or friend who has been touched by this insidious problem. But did you know that the U.S. consumes 80% of the opioids in the world (and 99% of hydrocodone), even though we make up only 4.4% of the world’s population? Although opioid prescriptions have dropped since their peak in 2012 (when 255 million prescriptions were written), recent data still show 191 million prescriptions being written per year. Among people abusing opioids, just over 30% get them by prescription, while about 50% get them from friends or relatives. (How many of you have unused opioids in your medicine cabinet after having them prescribed following surgery or a painful dental procedure? How accessible are they to your children or guests?)


So, what can we do as parents to protect the children and adults in our family and community from the dangers of opioids? Ahmed Eid, Addiction Program Manager at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, brings answers that every parent should hear. Specifically, he addresses these questions and more: What safer options are there for managing pain when that is necessary? Where and how should we dispose of leftover opioids so they won’t fall into the wrong hands? What are the signs of opioid addiction in young people and how are they the same as or different from other types of addiction? (For example, unlike other substances that are more social, opioid use is isolating, leaving the user extremely irritable, experiencing intense itching, having slurred speech and a pattern of dozing off. Within 6 – 10 hours after the last use, intense withdrawal symptoms set in, including pain all over.) What is the most effective treatment approach and how is that the same or different than treatment for addiction to other substances? For example, what about the use of medication in treatment, as well as the more holistic approach typically used to treat other addictions? And perhaps most important of all, how can we talk with our children about opioid use in a way that will keep them from starting down that path?


Ahmed notes that talking with our children from an early age is one of the most important things we can do, telling them clearly how miserable the experience of opioid addiction is and how all-consuming the craving becomes. We urge you to listen carefully to this important and informative Mom Enough discussion so that you are better prepared to keep your children and other loved ones safe.



What surprised you in this discussion about opioid addiction? Why do you think the U.S. is accountable for such a high proportion of opioid use in the world? What could we do as a society to address those larger forces that have set the stage for such a high incidence of opioid addiction and related deaths? On a more personal level, what can you say and do in your own home or neighborhood to reduce the likelihood that young people will abuse opioids?



FROM ARAB SPRING TO A UNIQUELY AMERICAN SCOURGE. Read this Star Tribune article about Ahmed Eid’s journey from Egypt, where he worked as a counselor in a psychiatric hospital, to Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, where he working hard to treat and prevent opioid addiction.


SESAME STREET INTRODUCES NEW CHARACTER TO HELP KIDS UNDERSTAND THE OPIOID CRISIS. Sesame Street creators turned to the issue of addiction since data shows 5.7 million children under the age of 11 live in households with a parent with substance use disorder. Learn more in this video.


RECOGNIZING AND RESPONDING TO SIGNS OF A POSSIBLE SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROBLEM WITH YOUR ADOLESCENT: GUIDANCE FROM HAZELDEN BETTY FORD. Dr. Leslie Adair, from Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, shares the information parents need to recognize signs of possible addiction and how to get appropriate treatment for your adolescent and family.

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