2018: Taking Action to Prevent Opioid Misuse and Abuse


October 2018 marks the 33rd Talk About Your Medicines Month. TAYMM is an annual opportunity to focus attention on the value that better medicine communication plays in promoting better medicine use and better health outcomes. TAYMM, a well-recognized health observance month, has grown and expanded over three decades to stimulate conversations between patients and their healthcare providers about all the types of medicines they may take, with a focus on what to know about a medication in terms of expected health outcomes, possible side effects, benefits and potential risks..

For 2018 We are "Taking Action to Prevent Opioid Abuse and Misuse"

The facts are chilling: from 1999 - 2016, more than 350,000 people died from an overdose involving opioids. This year, BeMedWise and our health education stakeholders are talking about opioid safety and how patients, their families, caregivers and health professionals can work together to manage these serious medications and avoid potential misuse or abuse.

Get involved and join us as part of the 4th Wave as parents, caregivers, grandparents, teens, young adults, community leaders, and recovery community, first responders, healthcare professionals — including students, clinics, consumer health advocacy government, industry and the media are Taking Action to Prevent Opioid Abuse and Misuse

All of the BeMedWise past "Talk About Your Medicines" observances, materials and resources are "evergreen," and can be used for your health-related events throughout the year. The downloads, posters, etc. are free and can be reproduced (photocopied) and distributed to your audiences. Please give the BeMedWise attribution for the resources that you use/distribute whenever possible.



What are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs used to reduce pain.

opioids TAYMM BeMedWise

Prescription opioids can be used to treat moderate-to-severe pain and are often prescribed following surgery, injury, or for health conditions such as cancer pain. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the acceptance and use of prescription opioids for the treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain, such as back pain or osteoarthritis, despite serious risks and the lack of evidence about their long-term effectiveness. (Ref: CDC)

Providers wrote nearly a quarter of a billion opioid prescriptions in 2013 – with wide variation across states. This is enough for every American adult to have their own bottle of pills.

Studies suggest that regional variation in use of prescription opioids cannot be explained by the underlying health status of the population.

The most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths include:

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever. It is many times more powerful than other opioids and is approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain. Illegally made and distributed fentanyl has been on the rise in several states. (Ref: CDC). The rate of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone, which includes fentanyl, doubled from 2015 to 2016. Roughly 19,400 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids other than methadone in 2016. (Ref: CDC)

Heroin is an illegal opioid. Heroin use has increased across the U.S. among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels.  Some of the greatest increases occurred in demographic groups with historically low rates of heroin use: women, the privately insured, and people with higher incomes.  From 2010 – 2016, heroin-related deaths increased by more than five times. (Ref: CDC)

Not only are people using heroin, they are also abusing multiple other substances, especially cocaine and prescription opioid pain relievers. Nearly all people who use heroin also use at least one other drug.


Taking Action to Prevent Opioid Abuse and Misuse

  • America has a drug problem that is touching the lives of all of its citizens.
  • Opioids – prescription and illicit – are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. Opioids were involved in 42,249 deaths in 2016, and opioid overdose deaths were five times higher in 2016 than 1999. (ref: CDC)
  • In 2016, more than 11 million Americans misused prescription opioids. (Ref: AAOA)
  • Approximately 40 percent of people who misused opioids obtained them from a friend or relative for free. (Ref: AAOA, Ibid)
  • Each day, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for not using opioid prescriptions as directed.(Ref: AAOA, Ibid)
  • An average of one hundred fifteen Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. (Ref: AAOA, Ibid)
  • Opioid prescribing in the U.S. hit its highest point in 2010 with providers writing more than 80 prescriptions per 100 patients. (Ref: AAOA)
  • Since 2010 the number of prescriptions has dropped more than 10%. (Ref: Ibid)
  • Recent government data estimate that close to 92 million people (38 percent of the U.S. population) used prescription opioids in 2014–2015. (Ref: Ibid)
  • A recent study found that more than two-thirds of patients who undergo surgery do not use all of their painkillers, and few safely store or dispose of these medications. (Ref: Ibid).
  • The following drugs should also never be combined with opioids:
    - Benzodiazepines (such as Xanax® and Valium®)
    - Muscle relaxants (such as Soma® or Flexeril®)
    - Hypnotics (such as Ambien® or Lunesta®)
    - Other prescription opioids

fact sheet for taking action to prevent opioid abuse and misuse


Talking about Opioids: Tips to Guide Your Conversation with Your Healthcare Providers

Make the most informed decision with your doctor


Safe Disposal: An Important Part of Addressing Opioid Abuse


Use Opioids Safely: 3 Key Steps http://www.bemedwise.org/docs/images/tips_circle_icon-for-text_11.png

#4th WaveBuilding

Taking Action to Prevent Opioid Abuse

TAYMM 4th Wave Building

From 1999-2016, more than 350,000 people died from an overdose involving any opioid, including prescription and illicit opioids. This rise in opioid overdose deaths can be outlined in three distinct waves:

THE FIRST WAVE began with increased prescribing of opioids in the 1980’s with overdose deaths involving prescription opioids (natural and semi-synthetic opioids and methadone) increasing since at least 1999.

THE SECOND WAVE began in 2010, with rapid increases in overdose deaths involving heroin.

THE THIRD WAVE began in 2013, with significant increases in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids — particularly those involving illicitly-manufactured fentanyl (IMF). The IMF market continue to change, and IMF can be found in combination with heroid, counterfeit pills and cocaine. (Ref: CDC)

THE FOURTH WAVE is building right now. (#4thWaveBuilding). Parents, caregivers, grandparents, teens and young adults, community leaders, the recovery community, first responders, healthcare professionals, government, industry and the media are Taking Action to Prevent Opioid Misuse and Abuse.

Help Us Trend #TalkAboutOpioids

Education first starts with engagement

Here's what you can do to educate and help encourage and stimulate safe medicine use conversations:

Help us trend Taking Action to Prevent Opioid Abuse and Misuse via your organization's social networks (Facebook and Twitter) during October. Please Visit, "Like," and Share the BeMedWise's Facebook page or @BeMedWise Twitter page; and repost, etc.

Download the free TAYMM Communications Toolkit. The 2018 toolkit contains a newsletter article, Facebook and Twitter Posts graphics that you can share.

List to our kick-off TAYMM webinar recorded on October 4, 2018 and share.

Ideas for Observing TAYMM

Ideas for Observing TAYMM

“Talk About Your Medicines” Month is a great time to organize a safe medicine use communication program for the general public, patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals, community businesses and social/service organizations, clubs and health fairs. This October (and beyond) the BeMedWise Program urges you to encourage every consumer, patient, and caregiver in your community to take action to prevent opioid medicine misuse and abuse.  Here are some ideas and links to resources to get started.

  1. Organize a Taking Action to Address Opioid Misuse and Abuse coalition and community meeting. Invite groups representing first responders, parents, teens, young adults, schools, businesses, local government, treatment and recovery services. For suggestions on building a community coalition see:  AgainstOpioidAbuse.org and Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CDCA.org).
  2. Host a medication check-up event at your clinic, pharmacy, library, school, community college, adult education class, senior center or retirement community. Use social media or post flyers to promote your event. Tell attendees to bring all of their medications, so they can be reviewed for possible drug interactions, no longer being used or expired.  Help attendees learn best practices for safe disposal of medications and remind them to always keep their medications Up and Away (Put Your Medicines Up and Away and Out of Sight).
  3. Contact your local television (or radio) station's public affairs director, and offer to provide speakers for their community issues programs during October. The program’s topic could be “Educate Before You Medicate: Knowledge is the Best Medicine – Learn About Safe Opioid Use and Disposal.”  Speakers could be healthcare professionals, healthcare professional students, health educators, health reporters, communication experts, hospital risk managers, and/or industry and managed care patient education representatives. Click here for free downloadable resources on BeMedWise.org.
  4. Contribute an "Educate Before You Medicate" article or column to your community newspaper, employee e-newsletter, employer website, blog, or religious bulletin. Modify the article “What are Opioids” or write your own tips for safe medicine use (see “Talk About Your Medicines” Month Archive for ideas).  (If you use a BeMedWise article or download,  please acknowledge BeMedWise and refer readers to www.Talk About Your Medicines.


Download the 2018 TAYMM Communications Toolkit for Talk About Your Medicines Month 2018: Taking Action to Prevent Opioid Misuse and Abuse.

Included in the toolkit: A news article, suggested graphics and Facebook and Twitter posts that can be customized for your members and audiences.


“Talk About Your Medicines” Month Archive