Opioid abuse and what you can do

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 91 deaths due to opioid overdose each day in the United States and nearly 2,000 every year in Michigan. In fact, the CDC has declared that our state is facing an opioid epidemic. And none of us are immune.

The opioid drug category includes not only heroin but commonly-prescribed painkillers like OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet. Opioid dependency is non-discriminatory. It happens to people from all walks of life, and it can happen very quickly. Opioid dependency is a physical dependency that differs from addiction, but can rob a person of their ability to live a normal, healthy life just the same. And what begins as pain relief from a planned surgery or wisdom tooth extraction, for instance, can end in the tragedy of an overdose.

At Priority Health, we're battling opioid abuse by partnering with our health care providers statewide. Together, we're following CDC guidelines to reduce opioid use and abuse among our local communities. As part of this, we're asking doctors and pharmacists to limit the number of opioids prescribed and the amount of medication within each prescription fill, and to prescribe non-opioid alternatives for pain relief, when possible. But we need your help too, in order to end opioid dependency in our communities.

What can you do if you or a loved one is concerned about a possible overdose?

An overdose can happen even if you're taking an opioid as prescribed. That's why we recommend having on-hand a drug that could potentially save your life or that of a loved one. Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, can restore breathing in someone experiencing an opioid overdose for 30-90 minutes, so emergency medical help can be notified. And it's readily available.

If you think you or a loved one could benefit from having Narcan, speak with your provider or your local pharmacist. A standing order from the State of Michigan means that you don't need a prescription, and nearly 600 pharmacies state-wide can prescribe and fill prescriptions for Narcan upon request.

What can you do if you feel you need help with opioid dependency?

If you or a family member has concerns about opioid or substance overuse or misuse, contact us as soon as possible at 800.673.8043 to get the support you need.

We'll help you explore your options for treatment

Our trained Behavioral Health team members will receive your call, assess your immediate needs, and review your benefit eligibility for substance abuse treatment and/or medical management options.* We'll help you find the appropriate level of care for your needs.

If you need an inpatient detox treatment program, you'll be transferred to our clinical staff who will work quickly to get you immediate help.

If your medical needs fit the necessary criteria for a short-term, intensive residential treatment program, we'll connect you with a local one that is listed as a benefit in your plan, and help determine how long you can stay.

Don't fall victim to luxurious "spa-like" out-of-state programs. Many of these clinics do not provide evidence-based treatment and could leave you without appropriate medical care for your opioid dependency, and an outrageous bill to pay.

If you might benefit from outpatient behavioral health therapy, in addition to medical management, we'll help you find resources and navigate your way through the system.

Your health and safety is important to us and we're here to support you. We're committed to addressing this opioid crisis head on, and together we can help those in Michigan address their dependencies and get on the path to wellness.

*Our staff is available Monday – Thursday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and can access benefit information. After-hours clinicians will assist in crisis situations during evening and weekend hours, but will not have access to benefit information.