Opioids and Peer Support Services

What are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs used to reduce pain. There are prescription opioids, prescribed and monitored by doctors, that can treat moderate to severe pain. However, even these prescription opioids can have serious risks and side effects. Common types include oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and methadone. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever that is much more powerful than other opioids. It is approved for treating severe pain, such as in the case of advanced cancer pain. However, there is a rise in many states of illegally made and distributed fentanyl. There are also illegal opioids like heroin.

What is the Opioid Epidemic?

Unfortunately, there is a growing epidemic of people who overdose and/or die from opioid overdoses in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. increased by more than 16% from 2020 to 2021. More than 75% of the nearly 107,000 drug overdose deaths that occurred in 2021 involved an opioid.

There have been three major waves of this epidemic, with the first wave occurring in the 1990s due to an increased prescribing of opioids. The second wave began in 2010 with rapid increases in overdose deaths involving heroin. The third wave started in 2013 when there were significant increases in overdose deaths that involved synthetic opioids, especially illicitly manufactured fentanyl.

HCC Network is committed to fighting the opioid overdose epidemic.

Peer Support Services and Other Resources through HCC Network

HCC Network offers peer support services and Narcan training thanks to funding from the Rural Community Opioid Response (RCOR). Our three dedicated peer recovery specialists have successfully recovered from past opioid substance abuse disorders or mental health disorders, and they work with patients who are experiencing similar situations. Through shared understanding, respect, and mutual empowerment, these support services help people become more engaged in the recovery process. The program helps reduce the likelihood of relapse, and these services often extend treatment beyond just the clinical setting and into the day-to-day lives of those who are seeking a successful, sustained recovery process.

The Narcan training program with HCC Network provides individuals with information on how to recognize an opioid overdose, administer naloxone (Narcan), and then provide care for the person who overdosed until emergency services arrive. Those who complete the training program receive a naloxone (Narcan) kit afterward. Our peer recovery team includes:

  • James M.
  • Molly A.
  • Cody D.

Sharps Disposal

HCC Network also provides containers for safe and responsible sharps disposal. This can be for disposing everything from hypodermic needles, syringes, and scalpel blades to broken glass, razor blades, and more.

Note, the information on this page is sourced from the CDC as of August 2023. For the latest developments on opioids and the opioid epidemic, visit the CDC website here.