The Opioid Crisis is Knocking on Nebraska’s Door

Opioid Crisis

The Opioid Crisis

The Opioid, or Narcotic Drug Crisis is nationwide and far reaching, yet so close to home in Nebraska. We see all groups of people: newborn babies, teens, young parents, adult professional, former athletes, and even elderly individuals addicted to opioids for any number of reasons. 

Opioids in Nebraska

Nebraska lawmakers are aware of the opioid crisis and they are making huge gains in fighting this epidemic proactively. Nebraska’s Governor Pete Ricketts promotes prevention by regulation of prescription medications and said in an interview by 10/11 News that he is proud of Nebraska’s proactive approach with the opioid crisis, but says there is still work to be done. Nebraska has some of the most strict policies for obtaining prescription opioids and for managing and disposing of them correctly. Simply knowing how opioids are negatively affecting our state is helping to keep it at bay, but like Ricketts suggests, the fight is not over. 

According to the Department of Health and Human services, in 2017, Nebraska doctors wrote 56.6 opioid prescriptions for every 100 patients seen. Also, of the 152 Nebraskans who died from drug overdoses in 2017, 59 were opioid related and still Nebraska, ranks last or second to last in the opioid crisis at the national level, but is a close neighbor to Missouri who ranks 18th. This opioid crisis is knocking on our door.   

In October of 2018, Nebraska was awarded a $1.3 million award to put toward the opioid crisis. Substance abuse treatment, evaluations, and counseling, like those offered by Stepping Stones in Lincoln, Nebraska are needed now more than ever. The Department of Health and Human Services reports that 88.7 percent of people needing substance abuse treatment are not receiving it. Call Stepping Stones at 402-488-6511 if you or a loved one need substance abuse counseling, treatment, or evaluations. 

Sometimes it is hard to know if you or your loved one has a problem before it is too late. Watch for the warning signs and if you do see someone who appears to have overdosed, find help, quickly!

Warning Signs for Opioid Misuse and What to Do.

If you notice signs of opioid overdose, call 911:

  • Unconscious/Unresponsive

  • Slow/Shallow or No Breathing

  • Snoring or Gurgling, Due to Obstruction of the Airway 

  • Blue Lips or Nails

  • Pin-point Pupils

  • Clammy Skin

  • Signs of Pain Patches or Needles and a history of Heroin/Opioid Use

Naloxone Hydrochloride (Narcan®) is a medication given to reverse opioid overdose. Family members, friends, or community members responsible for people who are at-risk of opioid-related overdose should obtain Naloxone in the event of an emergency overdose situation. 

What are the Effects of Opioids? 

Opioids can reduce pain, but also cause mental confusion, nausea, drowsiness, constipation, euphoria, and can depress respiration. They are highly addictive and the effectiveness tends to wear off over time, but not the cravings for the drug. 

How Can You Help?

Help begins with education. Medical professionals are now aware of their role in the opioid crisis. Research has been conducted and new findings have surfaced about the dangers of highly-addictive pain medications. The medical and research communities are taking action with changes to how opioid medications, like Oxycodone, OxyContin® hydromorphone, fentanyl, morphine, and others, are used to treat pain. Here’s why:

  • Opioids are not as effective or safe for treatment of chronic pain as once thought.

  • Prescribed medications too often end up in the wrong hands—including our youth.

Anyone can develop substance use problems with these opioids. The opioid crisis does not discriminate. Not only that, but families and the greater community are feeling the affects of the opioid crisis, even in Nebraska.  As with any crisis, this means all hands on deck for prevention. Here are a few actions you can take for yourself and your family when being treated for pain:

  • Ask about non-opioid care options for pain.

  • Lock up medications and safely discard of left overs.

  • Understand and share the fact that providers are now asking patients to sign a controlled substance agreement and undergo drug screenings to assist in keeping our community safe.

  • Let your provider or pharmacist know of any concerns or problems with misuse of opioids.

Most importantly, if you know someone struggling with opioid addiction, you need to seek help. Do not let yourself or your loved one be a part of the nearly 89% of people who are addicted and not receiving treatment. Call Stepping Stones in Lincoln, Nebraska at 402-488-6511 for substance abuse evaluation and counseling services. 


Christine Weeks