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SAMHSA publishes updated toolkit to help prevent opioid overdoses

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has published an update to its Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit, which is designed to help healthcare providers, families and other community members prevent overdose deaths related to opioid use. President Trump and HHS have made fighting the opioid crisis a top priority. That includes working to expand the set of tools available for solving this crisis, including new therapies for treating opioid use disorder and helping people stay in recovery. 

The toolkit addresses several factors that can lead to an opioid overdose death, from intentional misuse to accidental over-medication, and recommends that health care providers follow guidelines from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention when considering prescribing opioids.

The toolkit also discusses when and how to use naloxone, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose. In certain cases, healthcare providers may need to consider prescribing naloxone along with an opioid prescription, and the toolkit recommends that naloxone be made available to first responders and others who might respond to a possible overdose.

Specifically, the toolkit presents five strategies:

1. Encourage health care providers, people at high risk for overdose, family members and others to learn how to prevent and manage opioid overdose.

2. Ensure access to treatment for people who are misusing opioids or who have a substance use disorder.

3. Ensure ready access to naloxone.

4. Encourage people to call 911 in the event of a possible overdose.

5. Encourage health care providers to use prescription drug monitoring programs to prevent overprescribing of opioids.

SAMHSA first released the toolkit as a part of its continuing efforts to reduce the number of opioid overdose deaths in the United States. In 2016, over 42,000 overdose deaths in the U.S. involved opioids. Since fiscal year 2017, SAMHSA has invested over $1 billion in opioid-specific funding, including funds to state and local governments as well as civil society groups for services that include supporting treatment and recovery services, increasing availability of overdose-reversing drugs and training first responders and more.

People with opioid use disorders can weigh treatment options by visiting our treatment locator, They also can learn about the factors to consider when exploring treatment options by reading SAMHSA’s “Finding Quality Treatment for Substance Use Disorders” at (English) or (Spanish).

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA’s mission is to lead public health and service delivery efforts that promote mental health, prevent substance misuse, and provide treatments and supports to foster recovery while ensuring equitable access and better outcomes.

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