Opioid overdose is a major public health problem in the U.S., accounting for almost 17,000 deaths each year. Anyone who uses opioids for the treatment of pain is at some risk for overdose. Those who use illicit opioids such as heroin are at even greater risk.
Opioid-related overdoses and deaths can be prevented, but only if prescribers, patients, first responders and others are aware of and know how to use naloxone and other proven strategies. To share this knowledge, SAMHSA has developed an Opioid Overdose Toolkit containing five separate booklets, each designed for a specific audience:
- Booklet 1, Facts for Community Members, contains information that can help local governments, community organizations and private citizens develop sound policies and practices to help prevent opioid-related overdoses and deaths.
- Booklet 2 covers Five Essential Steps for First Responders. In it, paramedics, EMS, police, and other first responders will find steps to use in responding to an overdose, including how to use naloxone and provide other life-saving assistance.
- In Booklet 3, Information for Prescribers, physicians and other health care professionals will find reliable information about the risks of opioid overdose, as well as clinically sound strategies for prescribing opioids and educating and monitoring their patients who receive opioids so as to minimize the risk of opioid overdose.
- Booklet 4, Safety Advice for Patients, empowers patients by helping them understand how to use opioid medications safely so as to minimize the risk of overdose.
- Finally, Booklet 5, Recovering from Opioid Overdose, provides resources for overdose survivors and family members to help them recover from the trauma of overdose and become advocates for prevention.
All five booklets feature clear explanations and simple strategies that are based on the current science. They also refer readers to other reliable sources of information, including those offered by the CDC, ONDCP, and private sector organizations.