Blue Willow strives to promote recovery and prevent relapse, overdose, and death by treating the whole person including their community in the recovery process.
As with every recovery program, the first and foremost goal is preventing death. Blue Willow places a major focus on alcohol and drug relapse and overdose education. We take it a step further by including Naloxone training for clients, family and friends. It is Blue Willow’s hope that Naloxone becomes as commonplace as CPR. We also place a major emphasis on client and family suicide education and prevention.
The second goal to consider is education and prevention of serious medical and social complications associated with alcohol and drug abuse. We also focus on preventing major health damage (liver failure and serious trauma), infections (Hepatitis B or C) and incarceration.
The third goal for the client is not only to achieve long term sobriety from all mood-altering and addictive substances but importantly learn how to live sober and love yourself and others sober.
Suicide remains a serious and preventable public health problem in the United States. Alcohol and substance abuse increases the risk of suicide, and one aspect of the ongoing opioid crisis that receives little attention is the link between opioid use disorders and the significantly increased risks for suicidal ideation and suicide. People with substance use disorders frequently have other psychiatric disorders, which are independently associated with increased suicide risk.
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death overall and the suicide rate continues to increase every year. Suicide now claims more lives each year in the US than death due to motor vehicle crashes and is the second leading cause of death for people age 12 to 42.
Concealed in the alarming number of overdose deaths is a significant number of people who have purposefully decided to take their own life. It can be challenging to discover the true relationship between suicide and drug use causing overdose because the intentions of someone who overdoses may not always be clear-cut.
Alcohol is also known to be significantly implicated and linked to intentional suicides. Approximately 22 percent of deaths by suicide involved alcohol intoxication and acute alcohol intoxication is present in about 30-40 percent of suicide attempts.
Blue Willow’s program provides suicide prevention education and resources to help clients and their families. It is critically important that the client and family members be educated and be aware of the potential warning signs that may precede suicidal ideation and behaviors.
Blue Willow’s primary goal is to keep the client alive, thus client and family overdose education, prevention and treatment are cornerstones of the program. The addiction and opioid overdose education portion of the Blue Willow program starts on week one. We review safety information for family members on how to recognize early signs and symptoms of overmedication or intoxication and importantly the signs and symptoms of early overdose and what to do if you suspect an overdose.
Individuals with substance abuse issues, particularly those involving opioids, are at greater risk of overdose when they have not used or have used very little for a period of time. Those at a heightened risk for overdose also include “weekend warriors” who abuse drugs recreationally and those who abuse less potent substances and try a more potent drug for the first time. Overdose can also occur when a person deliberately misuses a prescription, uses an illicit substance, combines illegal and/or prescribed substances or uses a contaminated substance. Heroin bought on the street is commonly laced with fentanyl without the knowledge of the user.
The majority of overdoses result from poly-substance issues, when a person takes more than one substance at a time, particularly with “downers” like alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioids. When it’s relevant to a client’s care plan, Blue Willow will arrange for Naloxone training for clients and their loved ones.
Blue Willow provides a drug overdose educational program that starts on week one for clients and their families. The program reviews safety information for family members on how to recognize early signs of overmedication or intoxication and importantly the signs of early overdose and what to do if you suspect an overdose. Clients, family members and friends will learn about Naloxone and understand how and when to administer this medication for the prevention of opioid overdose deaths. When administered correctly, Naloxone is proven effective and quickly reverses the effects of opioids by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain, thus cutting off the damaging effects of opioids and can help reverse the potentially fatal respiratory depression and save the life of a loved one.
If a client has a history of nonfatal overdose, from that point onward, they are at a greater risk for another overdose, so client and family preventive education needs to be that much more intensive and comprehensive. As part of the Blue Willow recovery program, we discuss ways to find a network of support and provide clients who have recovered from an opioid overdose additional resources.
The bottom line is that the risk for an opioid overdose is real and significant regardless how experienced, how intelligent, or how careful you may be with abusing drugs. You are and will always be at great risk for serious harm including overdose and suicide if you continue to abuse these potent drugs.