Opiod awareness and Prevention and how it is affecting our minority community

Opioids are a class of drugs that include both prescription pain medicines and illegal drugs such as heroin. Opioid misuse whether legal or illegal can lead to addiction. Addiction occurs when dependence interferes with daily functioning. Warning signs include difficulty breathing, slurred speech, and difficulty with overall motor functioning.

Opioid use is largely unrecognized in minority communities. According to the CDC, the overall death toll is higher for Caucasians, but it is increasing faster for our Minority communities, which would be African Americans and Latinos.

Infiltration of Fentanyl into Cocaine has been suspected to be a driving factor into the fatality among our minority community. Some people may have dependencies and express how they have never used an Opioid, but the reality of the situation is that the substance that is being used may have an additive of Fentanyl.

Fentanyl is odorless and not easily detectible but can ultimately be the ingredient that can alter a person’s breathing rate. Side effects caused by Fentanyl include mental/mood changes, severe stomach/abdominal pain, difficulty urinating, slow heartbeat, fainting, seizures, and slow/shallow breathing.

Substance abuse is known to lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies that threaten physical and mental health, damage vital organs and the nervous system, and decrease immune system function. Individuals in recovery can still be affected. The long-term overall health problems can include metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hypertension, weight problems, and eating disorders. These health problems have been described as 42% leading cause of death in the African Americans/Hispanic community.

Opiate usage can be a contributing factor to a number of psychiatric problems, which means a disruption of brain chemistry. Individuals who are using or in recovery can suffer from poor absorption of nutrients. In order to counteract malnutrition, foods that provide iron, folate, B6 and B12 should be consumed. Deficiencies of these nutrients can mimic mental health problems such as depression, fatigue, and poor attention. Omega-3 fatty acids can assist with a reduction of inflammation, which ultimately helps balance mood, and reduce depressive symptoms. Examples of food to consume, include spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, lemon & limes, onions, garlic, ginger, avocado, olive oil, salmon, peanuts, raisins, cantaloupe, raspberries, yogurt and apricots.

In the event of an overdose, call 911 immediately! Narcan, a nasal spray used for the treatment of an opioid emergency or possible overdose, can and should be given right away, if available. Narcan DOES NOT take the place of emergency medical care. After administering Narcan, try to keep the person awake and breathing. Lay the person on their side to prevent choking. Stay with him or her until emergency workers arrive.

Signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose include:

  • Slow or no breathing
  • No movement
  • Gurgling sounds or snoring
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Blue lips and nails
  • Choking
  • Unable to be awoken
  • Tiny pupils

For more information and/or help, call 211.