Opioid Overdose Prevention and Reversal

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Opioid Overdose Prevention and Reversal

International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held on every August 31 that aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. To commemorate the day, Team Braeburn wore purple awareness bracelets showing our support for families and friends remembering those who have died or had a permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.

At Braeburn we are committed to increasing awareness that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable. We brought this awareness to our own families and friends in hopes of continuing the downward trend in drug overdoses as seen in 2018 for the first time in decades.

Opioid Overdose and Misuse Facts

Most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that total drug overdoses fell by 5% from 2017 to 2018 in the first sign of a potential shift in the overdose crisis affecting the whole of the U.S. More significantly, however, 68,557 Americans still died from drug overdose in 2018. Opioid overdose deaths accounted for 47,590 of the total overdose deaths, which was essentially unchanged from the 2017 total of 47,600.1

The estimated prevalence of opioid misuse remains at a staggering 3.7% of the U.S. population, with 2 million of those surveyed meeting the criteria for an opioid use disorder. Importantly,1.2 million people report receiving medication treatment for opioid use disorder, an encouraging increase from 2017.2

Overdose Reversal

There are encouraging signs that local governments and medical communities are doubling their efforts to combat the opioid crisis. All U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and U.S. territories have received federal grants aimed at supporting the local fight against the epidemic, and most local jurisdictions have invested those resources to expand access to evidence-based treatments for OUD like buprenorphine.

Local governments also continue to invest heavily in expanded access to naloxone, the overdose reversal medication that has helped to save the lives of thousands of people who have experienced an opioid overdose. Many states adopted a naloxone prescription standing order as a result of the U.S. Surgeon General calling for its increased availability and urging more Americans to carry the medication, noting that naloxone can only save a life if it is available when an overdose occurs. Check your state’s Department of Health website for additional resources and information.

Overdose Prevention

Many states have created resources and guides for ways to prevent a drug overdose, which can also be found on your states Department of Health Website. Here are a few things you can do right now:

  • In SAMHSA’s 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, many people reported that they obtained their last misused prescription opioid from a friend or relative, with or without permission. One of things you can do to prevent opioid misuse or overdose is to properly dispose of your prescription opioids.
  • If you or someone you know is at an increased risk of an opioid overdose, learn the signs and symptoms and consider carrying naloxone.
  • There are effective evidence-based treatments for opioid use disorder including medication, counseling and other psychosocial services. Help those struggling with the disease find access to these treatments.
  • Call 911 if you suspect an overdose.


For more information, SAMHSA offers a prevention toolkit here.


  1. Ahmad FB, Escobedo LA, Rossen LM, Spencer MR, Warner M, Sutton P. Provisional drug overdose death counts. National Center for Health Statistics. 2019.
  2. SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2018.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, April 4). Opioid Overdose Reversal with Naloxone (Narcan, Evzio). Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/opioid-overdose-reversal-naloxone-narcan-evzio

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