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County of Orange premieres opioid misuse prevention campaign

If you get prescribed opioids, you may end up wishing you hadn’t. Opioid misuse and addiction can affect anyone; fortunately, there are other ways to help manage pain. That’s the message behind a new County of Orange campaign that launches this week.

Pointing people to the educational website – WrongForYou.com – the OC Health Care Agency (HCA) wants residents to understand the risks associated with taking opioids like hydrocodone, oxycodone and fentanyl. “The United States is experiencing an opioid crisis, and unfortunately Orange County is no exception,” said Michelle Steel, Chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors who represents the Second District. “Opioid overdose deaths here are most prevalent among older white males who live in our coastal and south Orange County cities. This campaign focuses on reaching that higher-risk population.”

One key message of the adult-targeted campaign is that prescription opioid addiction and misuse does not discriminate. In fact, anyone can experience complications from opioid use. Print ads will appear in coastal publications including the Orange County Register, Orange County Coast magazine, Laguna Beach and Newport Beach magazines with the headline, “Ask your doctor if opioids are wrong for you.” The ads offer the website as a source for more information.

One thing that the HCA’s “2017 Opioid Overdose and Death in Orange County” report revealed is Orange County’s need for more low/no-cost, evidence-based services including inpatient and residential drug treatment, detox and outpatient programs. “The opioid epidemic touches the lives of every family in Orange County,” said Vice Chairman Andrew Do, First District. “The County continues to build a behavioral health system of care that addresses the need for more programs to treat co-occuring substance use and mental health issues. The Be Well OC Regional Health Campus, expected to be open in early 2021, is a first-of-its-kind facility that will provide comprehensive behavioral health services on site.”

The County of Orange is investing in this educational campaign because, according to the HCA’s recent “Addressing the Opioid Crisis in Orange County, CA” report, the county has a higher per capita rate of overdose deaths than the state of California and all of the surrounding southern California counties. “Data included in the report showed the first decrease in opioid-related emergency department visits in 2018 – a decline of 6 percent from the previous year. However, we had 251 opioid overdose deaths in Orange County in 2018, and that is unacceptable,” said Supervisor Don Wagner, Third District. “Despite some of the report’s promising trends, there is more work to be done as we address the serious challenges associated with this crisis, and I am ready for it.”

Supervisor Doug Chaffee, Fourth District, added, “Addiction is a chronic disease and with appropriate treatment and support, people can manage this health condition and live full lives in recovery. The Board will always stand behind programs and campaigns like WrongForYou.com that are designed to improve the quality of life for all Orange County residents.”

The public awareness campaign that debuts this week in local print, television, and social media advertising suggests that before filling a prescription you might regret, learn how to prevent opioids from taking control at WrongForYou.com. “One aspect of the website that is very helpful are downloadable Q&A worksheets that Orange County residents can print out and take to their doctor’s office,” said Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, Fifth District. “Over-the-counter-medicines, exercise, chiropractic care, acupuncture and massage are some alternative ways to deal with pain, and we want community members to gather all the facts to help them take control over their own health.”

This article was released by the OC Health Care Agency.