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CDC: Social Media Can Fight Opiate Addiction

Prescription drug abuse, particularly with opioids, has become an epidemic in the U.S. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that there were 16,235 deaths involving prescription opioids in 2013. The human impact of this is devastating, with most of us either directly or indirectly knowing someone who has been touched by prescription drug addiction.

In an effort to get people talking about opioid overdoses and the dangers of these medications, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is taking a bold technological step forward – putting its faith in the power of social media.

Telling the Story of Addiction

During the fourth annual National RX Drug Abuse Summit this week, the CDC launched their new social media campaign titled “When the Prescription Becomes the Problem.”

Participants are asked to submit a six-word story or message on Twitter with the hashtag #RxProblem. Some of the early example stories include “Hopelessly broken now life is beautiful” and “Drugs were almost my dead end.”

“Prescription drug overdose devastates individuals, families and communities,” said Erin Connelly, associate director for Communication at the CDC’s Injury Center. “We’d like to get everyone talking and thinking about the risks involved with opioid painkillers.”

The campaign is expected to run until May 15.

Expanding the Mission to Social Media

This year’s fiscal Omnibus appropriations bill set aside $20 million for the CDC, a large portion of which will go toward expanding the Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention for States program. And although the initiative will initially operate in select areas, President Obama’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year asks the CDC to make this program available in all 50 states.

CDC data released last September shows prescription drug deaths quadrupled between 1999 and 2011.Additional funding to address this crisis couldn’t have come at a better time; CDC data released last September shows prescription drug deaths quadrupled between 1999 and 2011.

In 1999, approximately 4,263 opioid overdose deaths occurred. By 2011, however, that number that had climbed to 17,000 – a number that many say is too conservative.

Take Our “Am I a Drug Addict?” Self-Assessment

Take our free, 5-minute “Am I A Drug Addict?” self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with drug addiction. The evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are intended to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result.

Funding Social Media Efforts

While funding is essential to fight the opiate epidemic, having open and honest conversations is equally important.

If you or someone you know is dealing with a prescription drug problem, there’s no time to waste. Get educated on the dangers of these drugs, then share that information with your loved ones. Find out where you can attend support groups in your hometown or consider talking to an addiction counselor. And by all means, if you or a loved one is chemically dependent on prescription opiates, seek professional treatment.

We all play an important role in overcoming the opiate epidemic; we can’t empower the recovery process without honest conversation. If six words and a hashtag can help those closest to you avoid overdosing and becoming a statistic, log on and get busy typing!

Additional Reading: Why You Should Not Try Opiate Detox from Home

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