Panhandle Health District 800-878-2364

Substance Misuse Prevention

Fighting the opioid epidemic.

Opioid prescription and addiction is on the rise, and we’re fighting back.

Opioids are a class of drugs that can be used for pain relief and are commonly prescribed for acute pain, post-surgery, during cancer care, and throughout palliative care. However, in recent years, opioids prescribed for chronic pain relief have increased. In response, prescription opioid misuse and illicit opioid use has also increased.

Click Here for a list of treatment resources, providers, recovery and support resources.

Click here for a list of opioid drugs and medications.

Click here for data on opioid use by county (includes the 5 northern counties of Idaho).

Questions You Can Ask Your Provider BEFORE an Opioid Rx

  • How long should I expect to have pain?
  • Are there over the counter medication for pain relief that I can use?
  • What other things can I do to help control my pain?
  • Whom do I call if my pain is not controlled, getting worse, or I am having side effects?
  • What is the best way to store and dispose of any extra pills?
  • How would I stop taking opioids?

Even when taken as directed, opioids can have serious risks and side effects.

  • Tolerance, Physical dependence, and Addiction
  • Constipation
  • Nausea, vomiting, and dry mouth
  • Depression


Opioid Overdose Prevention

The best ways to prevent opioid overdose deaths are to improve opioid prescribing, reduce exposure to opioids, prevent misuse, and treat opioid use disorder.

Recognizing an opioid overdose

Recognizing an opioid overdose can be difficult. If you aren’t sure, it is best to treat the situation like an overdose—you could save a life. It is important that you don’t leave the person alone and make sure you call 911 or seek medical care for the individual. Signs may include any of the following:

  • Small, constricted “pinpoint pupils”
  • Falling asleep or loss of consciousness
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Choking or gurgling sounds
  • Limp body
  • Pale, blue, or cold skin

Learn more:

Register for the Strengthening Families Program!

Panhandle Health District is hosting an 11-week family and teen life skills program for all families with children 7-17 in Kootenai County.

Dates: Wednesday evenings, September 29 – December 15
Time: 5:30 – 8:00pm
Location: PHD Hayden Office (8500 N. Atlas Rd. Hayden, ID 83835)
Cost: Free! Plus dinner from a local restaurant will be provided at the beginning of each class!
Register Here

Deadline to register is Friday, September 24, 2021. Strengthening Families is an 11-week, evidence-based family skills class that has been shown to decrease risk factors for teen substance use. Families meet for 2.5 hours weekly. Learn more here or download the program brochure.

Please direct questions to:
Karyn Kershaw
(208) 415-5293

Safe Medication Storage & Disposal

Helping to prevent prescription drug misuse, abuse, and overdose by providing resources and education to our community.

Storage of Prescription Medication

Put Your Medicines Up and Away and Out of Sight to safely store medications in your home.

Storage of Prescription Medications Be Aware. Don’t Share. Lock Your Meds®

Disposal of Medications

When medications are expired, unwanted, or unused, it is important to dispose of them properly to avoid harm to others. Excess medications can be accidentally ingested, stolen, abused or even make their way to our water systems. Opioids can be disposed safely at home or preferably through Drug Take Back Programs.

Disposal at Home:

  • Always take the pills out of the original container, scratch off any identifying information and dispose of the empty container.
  • Mix the pills with an unpalatable substance (kitty litter, coffee grounds, dirt), then place the mixture in a sealed bag and throw it away.
  • Safely dispose of unused and expired medications at home with a free medication disposal pouch available at any Panhandle Health District Office.
  • Do not flush your medication down the toilet.
  • Be Aware. Don’t Share.

Drug Take Back Programs:

The best way to dispose of prescriptions is a permanent drop box. To find locations near you, visit the below website:
Office of Drug Policy

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

  • October 23, 2021
  • Location: participating drop box sites


Naloxone (sometimes called Narcan®) is a medicine that can reverse an opioid overdose. Someone who administers naloxone to a person who appears to be experiencing an opioid overdose is legally protected by Idaho’s Good Samaritan Law

In Idaho, anyone with a valid reason can ask for a prescription for naloxone from a physician, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist. The naloxone does not need to be intended for your own use.