What You Should Know About Opioids

opioid prescription

The opioid crisis has been with us for a while now. The impacts are harsh, and the work of increasing general knowledge is well underway. For example, the Mental Health First Aid curriculum was recently updated to include a section about opioid disorders. Why? Because opioid addiction has become so prevalent that knowledge about how to help someone experiencing an opioid overdose or addiction has become increasingly important.

What caused the opioid crisis?

In the late 1990s, healthcare providers increasingly prescribed opioid painkillers to relieve chronic, non-cancer pain. This occurred with some lack of evidence about long-term effects, such as addiction and overdose potentials. Information in the Mental Health First Aid manual indicates that opioids have been prescribed at higher rates over the past 15 years for treatment of moderate to severe pain. Common types of opioids include oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), morphine and methadone. Thankfully measures of all sorts are in motion by communities, law enforcement, government and the medical community to address the opioid crisis.

What are the impacts?

The statistics are alarming:

  • Each day, 140 individuals in the United States die of a drug overdose, 91 specifically due to opioids.
  • Between 2011 and 2015, overdose deaths in the United States from opioids tripled.
  • By 2017, life expectancy in the United States declined due to opioids.

What does addiction look like?

Someone who may be experiencing an opioid overdose may exhibit depressed or slowed breathing, confusion, lack of oxygen to the brain and potential for death.  The person may have cold, clammy skin, and may have blue or purple-tinged fingernails or lips. They may be unresponsive and drowsy. If you suspect someone is experiencing an opioid overdose, call 911.

Be caring

Sit with the person who needs medical attention. Remain calm, be nonjudgmental and compassionate. Show concern, gather information and engage the person in conversation after help has been called if it seems appropriate. Let that individual know that his or her safety is the most important matter at hand. 

What is naloxone?

Naloxone, also called Narcan, can be administered to someone experiencing an opioid overdose. Narcan reverses an overdose by binding to the same receptors in the brain for opioid drugs for a period of around 30 minutes. Narcan can be injected, however, a nasal spray version is often considered the easier route and may be administered by non-clinical individuals.

Employ safe practices

Should you or someone in your household be prescribed an opioid, take time to understand the risks.  The drug can cause nausea, breathing irregularity and a host of other side effects. Please read the labels carefully.

Further, remember to:

  • Lock up your meds and keep them away from children.
  • Use only as directed. Never double up on dosages or increase dosage without consultation.
  • Don’t mix with other medications. Be sure your physician has reviewed all medications in use.
  • Don’t mix opioids with alcohol, which can increase the risk of respiratory depression and other issues.
  • Don’t drive while taking an opioid prescription.
  • Please take time to review all information from your physician and find extra information as needed, such as The Ten Rules of Safe Opioid Use.

If you would like to attend a Mental Health First Aid course to learn more about opioid disorders, as well as learn more about signs and symptoms of numerous mental illnesses and how to help others, please visit the Community Reach Center website for a schedule of MHFA classes. The courses are free to Adams County residents and $35 to others. And if you have concerns about your mental health or a loved one, we are happy to talk with you and help with counseling services. Get more information on our metro Denver mental health centers at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500. We have centers in the north-side Denver metro area including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

LGBTQ Pride Month – A Time to Increase Awareness

Mental health plays an important role in all of our lives. It contributes to our experiences with people and the emotions we experience towards events that happen in our lives. Mental health effects more than just our emotions and can go beyond how we react to certain situations. These conditions can cause changes in how we act, think and feel.

The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) community faces mental health conditions just like the rest of the population. Although, some individuals may experience unique negative stigma, prejudice, and other biases that affect their mental health. 

To learn more about how mental health conditions affect the LGBTQ community read this information from the National Alliance for Mental Illness. 

National Men’s Health Week Celebrates Fathers, Sons, Brothers, Husbands, Friends

Men talking

Each year, Men’s Health Week is observed leading up to Father’s Day in mid-June. In fact, many organizations recognize June as Men’s Health Month. The point of these observances is to support men, who too often try to “go it alone” when it comes to managing their health. As we share with people at our mental health clinic, Men’s Health Week is intended to draw awareness to health problems that affect men and boys, and to encourage early detection and prompt treatment of these conditions.

Checkups are Critical

Many serious medical conditions have few if any symptoms. Consequently, it is important to have regular physical exams and the medical tests that can help identify these illnesses. Reminders and encouragement from family and friends can be very effective to prompt a man, who may have the attitude, “I’ll see the doctor if I get sick,” to make an appointment.

To maximize the effectiveness of these visits, it is important that men keep track of their own medical history as well as their family history. This information can help their physician more quickly zero in on illnesses and prescribe effective treatment.

Mental Health is Key to Overall Health

In encouraging the men in your life to take good care of themselves, it is important to remember that mental health is just as important as his physical health. Men have a well-deserved reputation for keeping their emotions bottled up inside, and that behavior can cause or exacerbate both mental illness and physical conditions like high blood pressure.

If a man or boy you care about acknowledges they are struggling or you are able to detect the signs of a problem, it’s crucial that you urge them to seek help. Mental and emotional health challenges can be successfully treated, and there is no shame in seeking help. For most, it takes more strength to confront mental illness than to pretend it doesn’t exist.

The Many Ways to Improve Wellness

In our busy world, it’s easy to get caught up in “to do” items and fail to take proper care of ourselves. Men, in particular, are known for putting off actions and activities designed to increase health and wellness. So, during Men’s Health Week, and all year long, it’s important to providing loving reminders to men and boys to:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Get plenty of exercise
  • Eliminate unhealthy habits like smoking or excessive drinking
  • Enjoy some leisure time every day
  • Maintain strong ties with family and friends, and get together often
  • Learn about and be aware of the signs of chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes
  • Express their emotions
  • Read good books or magazines about health

At Community Reach Center, we’re proud to play a role in helping to keep men and boys happy and healthy. And if you have concerns about your mental health or a loved one, we are happy to talk with you and help with any counseling services at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Leading Denver Mental Health Center Says Enjoying ‘Recess’ Helps You Stay Centered

Colleagues walking outside

To say that the world today can be hectic or chaotic at times would be an understatement. Unfortunately, many adults have lost touch with one of the best tools for achieving or maintaining a sense of calmness and of being “centered.” That tool is play. Like adults, children face a number of stressors in their lives. They naturally turn to play as a way to release tension and temporarily free their mind of worries and concerns. However, since our adult daily lives are so consumed with work, family responsibilities and obligations that others rely on us to handle, making time for play isn’t as reflexive for adults as it is for children. Therefore, we need to make intentional choices to incorporate play into our routines.

The Many Benefits of Play

Ask any child what the best part of their school day is and they will almost certainly say, “Recess!” Whether you can work it into your schedule regularly or on an “as time permits” basis, taking a recess can be something that you, too, eagerly anticipate and from which you derive a variety of benefits, including:

  • Stress relief. True childlike play, away from your work, laptop and smartphone, can be an excellent way to shed your mental and emotional burdens for a few minutes.
  • Improved cognitive function and creativity. Adults who engage in playful activities often find that they have the unintended benefit of helping them think more clearly and creatively at work and elsewhere.
  • Increased energy. Even a brief midday play session can have a very positive impact on your energy level when you turn your attention to afternoon tasks.
  • Improved relationships. Nothing helps build or repair relationships like sharing laughs while playing games or enjoying adventures with one another.
  • Emotional healing. Not only is play a great way to relieve stress, it can help you release and move beyond emotional pains.
  • Improved teamwork. Many playful activities involve teamwork, a skill that can be diminished or lost for adults in our competitive culture. Reconnecting with the joy of shared victory can have a positive impact on many areas of life.

The Five-Minute Recess

Getting away from your tasks and your To Do list for 30-minutes or more can be very invigorating. However, when that’s not possible, even five minutes of “play” can be helpful. Having some interesting and engaging toys close at hand in your work environment (whether that is outside the home or at home) and allowing yourself to become completely engrossed in them for a few minutes here and there is a healthy habit to develop.

We know that play can certainly be a centering influence. Please keep it in mind. And if you have concerns about your mental health or a loved one, we are happy to talk with you and help with any counseling services. Get more information on our metro Denver mental health centers at communityreachcenter.org or by phone at 303-853-3500. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.