The use of recreational drugs has long been a problem throughout the United States. But, in recent years, the increase of opioid drug abuse has become an epidemic. With a record number of overdoses from opioid drugs reported, and as it continues to rise, the illegal use of these drugs has led to a public health issue. And, as emergency responders are usually the first to treat drug overdoses, this has become a growing problem EMS are faced with when they are called to action.The Rise of Opioid DrugsEmergency responders, hospitals, doctors, and sometimes family members and friends, have seen an increase of unconscious people in need of medical attention as the use of opioid drugs becomes an epidemic. Surprisingly, there is no stereotype to what the typical patient, who has overdose from opioid drugs, looks like. Ranging in age, demographics, societal status, and profession, these drugs have been known to spare no one when addiction takes over. And, because of its wide availability and low cost, heroin becomes the next step in the opioid addicts’ venture. The rise of these drugs, in their recreational use, can be largely attributed to their potential for addiction and the years of prescriptions being readily available. The relaxation and sleep effect, that they have on the body, makes them a pleasurable choice throughout our entire society. So, how has the medical field increased their ability to respond to these types of calls and successfully reverse the damage of drug overdose on patients?Changing Our WaysOne of the most important methods of preventing opioid abuse starts right with the prescribing physician. The CDC has developed a Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain to start cracking down on the ease of availability of these drugs to the public. Medical providers are required, and urged, to follow certain practices when readily writing a prescription to a patient who is complaining of chronic pain. While this can be frustrating for patients, it reduces liability on the medical provider, by eliminating the risk of writing a prescription to someone who is using the medication for recreational use. Pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and hospitals have implemented prescription monitoring programs that can track what opioids have been prescribed to patients. Additionally, state laws have been enacted to make medical providers accountable for their readiness to prescribe these addictive drugs.The Use of NaloxoneAs the epidemic has spread throughout the United States, many states are taking a proactive approach to dealing with drug overdoses. The competitive opioid antagonist Naloxone, widely known as Narcan, has been made available to prehospital providers. This allows first responders to react quickly and efficiently, when presented with a call involving a drug overdose, potentially reversing the life-threatening effects of the drugs. Since needle stick injuries are common among those administering drugs, especially in the nursing and EMS professions, various forms of Naloxone have been made available to medical providers. Since drug abusers are known to have bloodborne infections, from shared needle use, attempting to administer Naloxone to someone who may not be cooperating can pose a problem to emergency responders. Intranasal administration of Naloxone has been ruled to be the most effective way to administer the drug, entering it right into the central nervous system, to reduce the risk of injury to medical professionals.Public AssistanceTo curb the damaging effect of opioid abuse on our society, those involved in coming to a resolution have enlisted the assistance of the public to help with the fight. Since deaths from drug overdose have quadrupled over the years, and studies show more than 90 Americans die every day from this problem, community programs are being developed all over the United States to fight this epidemic. Since the death from opioid overdose is majorly attributed to life-threatening respiratory arrest, some communities have even decided to enlist the help of community members in the administration of Narcan. For example, in Boston, community members, likely to be around the population that would be at risk for overdose, are trained in the administration of Narcan. These short training efforts, as little as fifteen minutes, have led to many reversals from overdose in opioid users.The rise of opioid drug use has long been an issue that is dealt with by medical providers, community leaders, school administration, and even families. As we gain more knowledge and research on how to battle this public health issue, it seems we are on the right track to overcoming this life-threatening addiction. Through the corroboration of medical professionals, state law makers, and the public, citizens are coming together from all ends of the spectrum to reduce this problem for the next generation.