Opioid Epidemic Still a Battle in the Community

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If you subscribe to the Salt River Police Department’s Facebook page, you may have noticed a number of tips to help educate Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members and anyone else who subscribes to their page about the opioid epidemic. They have been posting information about the dangers of fentanyl, what to do if someone has a fentanyl overdose, how to properly dispose of unused medications and drug slang. 

Through these informational tips, parents can learn drug terminology and signs that their children or family members are using opioids, alcohol, inhalants or other drugs. 

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs that that include heroin; pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine and morphine; and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. According to that National Institute on Drug Abuse (www.drugabuse.gov), opioids are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain. When prescribed by a doctor and taken for a short period of time, opioid pain relievers are generally safe. Unfortunately, they can be misused because they produce euphoria in addition to pain relief. Misuse can lead to dependency, which can lead to addiction, overdose and death. 

Opioid-involved overdose deaths rose significantly from 46,802 deaths in 2018 to 49,860 in 2019, according to the National Vital Statistics System of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

How to Prevent Misuse of Prescription Medications 

To help prevent the misuse of prescription medications in your home, you can dispose of unused or expired medications at one of two Pill Drop Boxes in the Community. The boxes are located at the SRPD Main Station and the Salt River Health Clinic Pharmacy. If you are currently using prescription medications that potentially can be abused, hide them or lock them in a safe and monitor how much is being used to ensure they are not being stolen. Also, educate your children about the dangers of prescription drugs that are being used without a doctor’s supervision and how taking street drugs can be potentially lethal. 

Dangers of Fentanyl 

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid used to treat severe pain and advanced cancer pain. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and when bought on the streets a single pill can cause overdose and death. It can be mixed in with heroin and/or cocaine without the user’s knowledge. Fentanyl is commonly seen as a powder or counterfeit tablets; sometimes it’s blue or marked M30. Abusers of fentanyl may inject, snort, smoke or take it orally. 

Signs of an Opioid Overdose and What to Do

Overdose effects include stupor, pupil size changes, cold and clammy skin, cyanosis (bluish or purplish skin due to lack of oxygen), coma and respiratory failure leading to death. If someone is experiencing an opioid overdose, call 911 immediately. If you have Narcan® nasal spray, administer it to the person according to the directions. If the person is not breathing or nonresponsive and you know how to do CPR, perform chest compressions. Go to www.srpmic-nsn.gov/government/hhs/narcan/ to order Narcan and watch the video about how to administer it to stop an overdose.

Educate Yourself on Drug Slang

There are hundreds of street names for drugs, and they are constantly changing in order to cause confusion and divert attention. For example, fentanyl can be called Blues, M30’s, Apache, China Girl, China Town, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfellas, Great Bear, He-Man, Jackpot, King Ivory and Murder 8. Today these street names are part of users’ vocabulary and could be obscure; parents should review the list of street drug names (see the sidebar) to increase their awareness and help recognize drug use. 

The SRPD keeps track of the number of drug violations every month, this information is compiled into a six-month report; the number of drug violations range between 22 to 40 violations. The report can be seen in the SRPD Monthly Crime Statistics that is placed in O’odham Action News.

According to the SRPD they have received 130 calls regarding overdose incidences from November 2019 to August 2021; 52 of those calls were made from January – August 2021.

The SRPD are doing their best to keep the Community informed about the new drug trends, they give presentations at Council district meetings and share information on their Facebook page.  

To keep up to date on the latest drug-abuse trends and other safety tips, visit the SRPD’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SaltRiverPD.

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