Balancing the Risks and Benefits of Opioids for Children

From the New York Times:

Experts say opioids are sometimes warranted for kids, in cases like severe burns or major trauma. But doctors should prescribe carefully, and parents should never keep leftovers in the house.

To curb the opioid epidemic, we all must do more

From Lehigh Valley Live

By Rhonda Miller

Nearly 200 people came together last month on a rainy Saturday night in Bethlehem, participating in a community forum addressing the opioid epidemic. Opioid overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in our region, state and nation. We lose more than 2,000 people in Pennsylvania and more than 50,000 people nationwide each year.

Having lost my son Ben to this epidemic, my mission and the mission of our organization, Speak Up for Ben, which organized the forum, is to prevent more families from going through what my family has gone through.

Read complete article here.

Letter to Legislators

Downloadable version here.

I write to urge you to introduce legislation in your state to arm patients and parents with the information they need to prevent opioid addiction. Every parent, every patient has the right to know the medicines they are about to receive can lead to a dependency and addiction. Prevent Opioid Abuse , the organization I founded, is advancing common sense legislation to accomplish this goal by requiring a conversation about the risks of dependence and where appropriate, the use of a non-opioid pain relief alternative before an opioid-based pain reliever is prescribed. In less than 2 years, versions of this Patient Notification legislation have already passed in seven states: Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio and Rhode Island.

I know the importance of having this knowledge from first-hand experience. My son Steven became dependent on opioid-based pain relievers after they were prescribed to treat a sports injury. Had I just been told about the addictive qualities of the medicines Steven was prescribed, I would have known to look for alternatives. I would have known to look for signs and symptoms of abuse.

And I’m not alone. A national survey done by the Hazeldon Betty Ford Foundation confirms what I have learned from talking with other parents, that 6 in 10 doctors prescribe opioid painkillers without telling patients that they can be addictive. That is why this legislation is so important and is beginning to fuel a reduction in the number of opioid-based pain reliever prescriptions in the states that are now implementing it. If we are going to curb this epidemic and prevent more families around the nation from going through what my family has been through, we need legislators like yourself to step up and bring this common sense approach to your state.

Given the recent approval by the FDA of Dsuvia, a new opioid painkiller that is ten times more potent than fentanyl, it is even more essential that we make sure that patients and parents in your state are armed with this real time, life saving information.

Requiring a conversation between doctors and patients and parents at the time it is most needed– right before an opioid is prescribed –is a simple, but extremely effective step that will result in saving lives. That is precisely what this legislation does. This common-sense requirement enables patients and parents to recognize signs of dependence, if they surface, and alerts them to less risky alternative methods of pain relief.

As the National Opioid Commission states, “We have an enormous problem that is often not beginning on street corners; it is starting in doctor’s offices and hospitals in every state in our nation.” Drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. More than 50,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2017.

We stand ready to assist you in any way in the introduction and passage of this life-saving legislation. If you need more information or have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the Prevent Opioid Abuse Team at 973-316-6433 or by email at Below is a copy of the legislation. We look forward to hearing from you.


Elaine Pozycki Founder, Prevent Opioid Abuse

Readers React: More needs to be done to curtail opioid epidemic

From The Morning Call:

Nearly 200 people came together on a rainy Saturday night in Bethlehem this past weekend at a community forum addressing the opioid epidemic.

Opioid overdoses are the leading cause of accidental deaths in our region, state and nation. We lose more than 2,000 people in Pennsylvania and more than 50,000 people nationwide each year.

Read complete article here.

Can Wisdom Teeth Removal Lead to Heroin Addiction?

Videos of people looking and sounding loopy after having their wisdom teeth removed get a lot of likes and shares on social media. The videos can be amusing, showing patients saying silly things while still groggy from the anesthesia, but a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine is sending out a warning that pulling your wisdom teeth could lead to heroin addiction. Opioids prescribed after the procedure, like Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet, are highly addictive.

Opioids claimed the lives of a young Pennsylvania mayor and his pal

He was mayor of a Schuylkill County town at age 22. Two years later, heroin claimed his life

Michael RubinkamOf The Associated Press

Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old, just resigned mayor of the tiny town of Mount Carbon, in what she assumed was a deep sleep. She tried to wake him for his overnight shift at the local supermarket, but he couldn’t be roused, even after she sprinkled him with water from a wet washcloth.

Read complete article here.

Study: Dental painkillers may put young people at risk of opioid addiction

December 3 at 11:00 AM

Dentists who prescribe opioid painkillers to teenagers and young adults after pulling their wisdom teeth may be putting their patients at risk of addiction, a new study finds.

Read complete article here.

Deadliest states for drug overdoses

From CBS News:

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes data about drug overdose mortality rates in every state, annually. Here is a look at the states ranked by overdose-related death rates for 2016, the most recent year available.”

Read the complete article here.

FDA approves opioid painkiller 1,000 times stronger than morphine

From USA Today:

“A new opioid tablet that is 1,000 times more potent than morphine and 10 times stronger than fentanyl was approved by the Food and Drug Administration Friday as a fast-acting alternative to IV painkillers used in hospitals.”

Read the complete article here.

10th Annual American Medicine Chest Challenge – This Saturday Nov. 10th

This Saturday, November 10, communities throughout the country will participate in the 10th Annual American Medicine Chest Challenge (AMCC) National Day of Awareness of Prescription Drug Abuse and Safe Disposal, an event that helps to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug misuse and encourages safe disposal of prescription drugs.

Prescription drug drop boxes are available 24 hours, seven days a week in many communities and can be located using the AMCC RX Drop mobile app or at

If you cannot participate in the National Day of Awareness of Prescription Drug Abuse and Safe Disposal, you can still take the American Medicine Chest Five-Step Challenge throughout the year:

Take inventory of the medicines in your home
Dispose of any unused, unwanted and expired medicines
Secure the medicines you keep
Take your prescription as directed
Speak to children about the dangers of misusing and abusing prescription drugs