Start Low. Go Slow.  – CDC 2016

From the Center for Disease Control:


More people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record. The majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involve an opioid. And since 1999, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (prescription opioid pain relievers and heroin) nearly quadrupled. From 2000 to 2014 nearly half a million people died from drug overdoses. 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.


We now know that overdoses from prescription opioid pain relievers are a driving factor in the 15-year increase in opioid overdose deaths. Since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. nearly quadrupled, yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report. Deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have also quadrupled since 1999.


Health care providers can:

  • Use Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) to identify patients who might be misusing their prescription drugs, putting them at risk for overdose.
  • Use effective treatments such as methadone or buprenorphine for patients with substance abuse problems.
  • Discuss with patients the risks and benefits of pain treatment options, including ones that do not involve prescription painkillers.
  • Follow best practices for responsible painkiller prescribing, including:
    • Screening for substance abuse and mental health problems.
    • Avoiding combinations of prescription painkillers and sedatives unless there is a specific medical indication.
    • Prescribing the lowest effective dose and only the quantity needed depending on the expected length of pain.



Individuals with substance related disorders face discrimination and prejudice due to lack of understanding about the disease. The stigma surrounding substance related disorders can be reduced by understanding the evolving language used to describe these topics. Because stigma can be directed at an individual by others (social stigma), can be internalized (self-stigma), or can be systematic (structural stigma), everyone has an opportunity to use language that challenges drug-related stigma.


Please note: Sometimes people directly affected by behavioral health disorders may choose to self-identify in different ways, and those choices should be respected. The aim of this guide is not to police other people’s language, which may vary based on their lived experiences and setting. For example, someone self-identifying in a meeting may use different words than a healthcare professional, journalist, or even a family member.




(301) 759-5050

12501-12503 Willowbrook Road, PO Box 1745

Cumberland, Maryland 21501-1745

OUR MISSION: Prescribe Change Allegany County’s mission is to create awareness and educate the citizens of Allegany County,
Maryland about the growing crisis of opioid prescription drugs, and heroin misuse and abuse in our community.