Understanding the Opioid Epidemic is a one-hour PBS documentary that traces the causes behind the unprecedented growth in the use of prescription opioids and the devastating impact these drugs are having in virtually every part of America. The program captures the story of the opioid crisis through personal stories and interviews with experts.

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Health care providers wrote nearly a quarter of a billion opioid prescriptions in 2013. That is enough for every adult American to have their own bottle of pain pills. Anyone who takes prescription opioids can become addicted to them.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day approximately 91 people in the United States die from opioid overdose.

Opioid (as defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse)
Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription. These drugs are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain. Opioid pain relievers are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor, but they can be misused (taken in a different way or in a larger quantity than prescribed, or taken without a doctor’s prescription). Regular use—even as prescribed by a doctor—can lead to dependence and, when misused, opioid pain relievers can lead to overdose incidents and deaths.

Epidemic (as defined by
• a widespread occurrence of a disease
• a rapid development, spread, or growth of something, especially something unpleasant
1. Are there existing programs in our community to educate doctors about the dangers of over prescribing opioids? If not, what can we do to move towards implementing a program?
2. What are some alternatives to opioid painkiller use? Does our community offer alternate therapies?
3. Does our school district offer education to students about the opioid epidemic and prevention?
4. How can parents be more involved in their children’s personal healthcare? And in their prevention education at school?
5.How can we better support those with the disease of opioid addiction?
6. How are the children in the film impacted? Summarize their stories (several sentences)
7.What can we do as individuals to aid in the prevention of this spreading epidemic? What can we do as a community?
8.How does the misconception that opioid painkillers are okay to take because they are prescribed by doctors affect the decision-making by young adults?
9.What role should parents play in their child’s healthcare?
10.What role can schools play in combating the opioid epidemic?
11. How are the older people in the film impacted? Summarize their stories (several sentences)
12.What are some of the effects that the opioid epidemic has on families? On whole communities?

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