An opioid is a drug used to reduce pain. Drugs like Oxycontin, Lortab, and Vicodin are opioids. Opioids are powerful medications that are sometimes misused or used incorrectly, which can result in a life-threatening overdose situation.The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has developed an Opioid Overdose Toolkit to educate first responders, physicians, patients, family members, and community members on ways to prevent opioid overdose, as well as how to use a drug called naloxone to prevent overdose-related deaths.Opioid abuse has become a major health problem that accounts for a growing number of overdoses each year. Last year alone it was responsible for close to 17,000 deaths in the United States.
Anyone who uses opioids for long-term management of cancer or non-cancer pain is at risk for overdose, as are those who use heroin. The good news is: we now know that the drug naloxone can be used as an antidote to opioid overdose and can prevent related deaths when naloxone is administered in a timely manner.
Inside the toolkit are five separate booklets, each designed for a specific audience:
- Patients can learn how to minimize the risk of opioid overdose.
- Prescribers can understand the risks of opioid overdose, as well as clinically sound strategies for prescribing opioids and educating and monitoring patients.
- First Responders will find five steps to use in responding to an overdose, including how to use naloxone and provide other life-saving assistance.
- Community Members can view facts about opioid overdose that can help local governments, community organizations and private citizens develop policies and practices to prevent overdoses and deaths.
- Survivors and Family Members can gain information and support through the information provided in this booklet.
The entire toolkit can be viewed at or downloaded from SAMHSA's website.