Wyoming's Opioid Abuse and How the State Is Fighting Back

By  | 

Overdoes are on the rise with opioid abuse being the driving force.

Wyoming is no stranger to what some are calling an opioid epidemic.

Medical staff say it’s up to prescribes to help combat addictions and that getting clean is only half the battle.

"Seventy-nine people a day in the United States are dying from overdoes of opioids" says Carol King with Central Wyoming Counseling Center.

According to the CDC both prescription and illegal consumption of opioids is the leading driver behind drug overdoses in the nation.
Worldwide around 30 million people abuse opioids based on a report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Physicians and rehabilitation staff say it’s a problem in Wyoming.

"The state of Wyoming Department of Health realized here about three or four years ago that the number of people coming in for treatment that was addicted to opioids or having trouble with opioids were increasing real dramatically."

Help is available even if the abuser is not willing to help themselves.

"You come in, we'll talk to you. Try to help you get some support to help your family member and then hopefully they'll come in as well."
Before you reach out for help King says they're signs to look for "but you're definitely going to see behavior changes. They're craving a lot. They're complaining about pain. They don’t have a lot of energy. They're not hungry. Mom I think I need fentanyl that is kinda a weird request from a person."

Getting clean is only half the battle. According to King opioids block pain signals from transmitting to the brain.
So when people get clean any remaining pain messages can now be sent to the brain.

"Get rid of the block then the nerve messages that say there is pain they can get through and some of them are still there."
Kings says relapse is high but so are the chances of death.
“When they get clean from those if they relapse the risk of death is very high. What it does is cause respiratory failure and stops you from breathing."

Doctor Andy Dunn says it’s not only up to patients to know about the risk with opioids but medical staff too "as providers we really have to educate the patients and I don’t know if we do that enough. We need to talk to patients about the risks let alone adverse reactions (and) side effects that any medication can potentially cause let alone in the addictive part."

Doctor Dunn says providers should prescribe more than medications.
"Prescriptions are not meant for an infinite amount of time. As providers we need to say this is for ‘x’ amount of days and we can do other modalities other therapies involve this is only to get us through an acute phrase.”

Doctor Dunn says that some insurance providers do not cover alternative options to medication such as therapies and says if they did we could see a drop in abusers.

Officials say the first steps to recover is noticing warning signs and seek help.