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.

The PRxOS (Prescription Opioid Solutions) Project is a community-based collaborative effort with the goal of reducing morbidity and mortality associated with local opioid use disorder (OUD). This group of agencies and individuals including providers, law enforcement, school administration, and more, are dedicated to creating solutions for our region that enable a high quality of life free of preventable disease, disability, injury, and premature death. In September of 2018, PRxOS was formed from the successful North Idaho Rx Opioid Solution Symposium hosted by the Panhandle Health District. This event launched conversations and partnerships that have began to collaboratively establish a cross-sectoral community. Workgroups were structured from best practices used in comparable communities in the United States that have made measurable successes. Four workgroups: prevention, harm reduction, access to treatment, and community resources have begun compiling knowledge and resources to narrow the focus on locally attainable approaches. Our North Idaho specific Rx Opioid Strategic Plan can be found by Clicking Here.

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:

Panhandle Health District along with community partners want to reduce the harm and death associated with opioid misuse. Learn more:

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 24, 2020
  • 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.