Hawaii deaths due to overdose — involving opioids and other drugs — are fewer than on the mainland — but that’s pretty much where the good news ends.
Thaddeus Pham, Jr., program specialist, State Dept. Of Health, says, “the sad news is, it’s still the leading cause of accidental death, so more than traffic fatalities, more than drownings, are drug-related deaths and primarily due to overdose.”
The Health Department has created an online questionnaire to help Hawaii residents determine their own risk of opioid addiction.
Pham says it is not at all connected to any class-action lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies.
“It’s not connected at all, it’s really a public health initiative to really ensure that people, 1) know what their risks are, and then 2) have resources to address those risks if there are any.”
The first page has 16 questions — and depending on your answers — the second page tells you whether you are:
At low-risk for dependency
That you may be dependent
Or that you are very likely addicted — and should keep Naloxone on hand to prevent an overdose.
Pham says it’s all anonymous and confidential — even if you provide your email address to get a copy of your answers.
“The campaign is targeted for people who are probably taking prescribed opioids, but the good news is we’re working with our community partners who work with people who are taking illicit drugs,” so they are being assessed as well.
So what is the Health Department going to do with the information?
Pham says, “What we’re hoping to do is just get a better understanding of what the risks are for folks and what resources they need.”
We asked what efforts are being made to persuade doctors to prescribe pain relievers or alternative treatments that are NOT addictive.
“And so there’s a whole work-group dedicated to educating providers in the state — and a whole work-group dedicated to educating pharmacists, and they are both developing materials, I think that will be available later this year.”
The campaign will continue through November 24th — but the questionnaire will continue to be online at hawaiiopioid.org.
And Thursday, health officials will observe International Overdose Awareness Day at Harris United Methodist Church.
Overdose Awareness Day event
Thursday, Aug. 29
11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Harris United Methodist Church
20 S. Vineyard Blvd.