Military Spouse Magazine

OCT 2018

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Page 25 of 35

A WAY FORWARD "Life never goes as planned," Mary says, reflecting on Jonathan's loss. Knowing she is making a differ- ence motivates her to move forward. "We really want to be an organization that gets something done. What we tell our staff is that every day, when you wake up in the morning, think, 'Let's save a life today.' And then, at the end of the day, say, 'Did we save a life today?' You can join SAFE's efforts by volunteering or by forming a SAFE community in your area. Find more information at H DON'T LECTURE Share stories that kids can relate to. ARM KIDS WITH KNOWLEDGE Explain the science behind drugs' effect on the brain. PUT THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE Asking for help can feel uncomfortable, even if it's for a friend. Ask kids which feels worse: feeling uncomfortable now or losing someone they love a year from now? Between 2002 and 2017, the number of deaths from opioid overdoses quadrupled. A NECESSARY EDUCATION Understanding the potential exposure to opioids within your own fam- ily begins with taking a hard look at what is already in your home. "I don't think there is a mili- tary family anywhere that does not have opioids in their medicine cabinet," Rosemary reflects. Many service members are prescribed opioids to manage pain resulting from the physical demands of their jobs. Military spouses and kids are prescribed opioids, too, fol- lowing procedures like caesarean sections or wisdom teeth removal. "A lot of people don't even know what opioids are," Mary says. SAFE provides a helpful fact sheet that can help you get acquainted with the many generic forms of opioid medications. It also suggests possible alternative medications. Common opioids include hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), oxymorphone (Opana), morphine (Kadian, Avinza), codeine, and fentanyl. Next, dispose of opioids and other medications safely. Never flush opioids down the toilet. Every military treat- ment facility has a take-back program available to beneficiaries, which helps prevent the misuse of medications later. Finally, reach out for help if you sense that someone you love is in need. Sudden changes in behavior are an indication that something is wrong and that is the time to offer help, Mary says. Doing things to excess, including eating, sleeping and even exercising, can also indicate that "someone's life-balance is off." Some might hesitate accessing help because they fear that the stigma could harm their service member's career. But Mary reminds military spouses that the greater disservice would be to refrain from getting well. Military spouses' health and wellness affects the entire family, including the service member. "We need to keep the fami- lies healthy," she says. THE WINNEFELDS SHARE JONATHAN'S STORY WITH YOUNG PEOPLE ACROSS THE COUNTRY. THEY ALSO ENCOURAGE PARENTS TO USE AGE-APPROPRIATE MEASURES TO HELP KIDS UNDERSTAND THE DANGERS OF OPIOIDS AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE. KEEP THESE 3 TIPS IN MIND: 1 2 3 THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC BY THE NUMBERS 21 to 29 percent of people who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. 4 to 6 percent of people who misuse prescription opioids later use heroin. The opioid epidemic costs the U.S. approximately $80 billion per year. In 2017, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention lowered Americans' life expectancy to 78.5 years because of opioid-related deaths. 26 MILITARYSPOUSE.COM / OCTOBER 2018

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