First, What are Opioids?
An opioid is a synthetic substance that has similar, but not related, effects of substances called opiates. The most common opioids are medications used to treat pain.
If you have ever had a medical procedure, you may have been prescribed a type of opioid for pain management.
You may recall some of the more common drug brand names – Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Percocet.
We’re here to help you understand opioids better, learn about their use and possible misuse or abuse and discuss alternatives to treat long-term pain.
We also want to share what we are doing to battle the epidemic.
What are Signs of Possible Addiction?
Possible signs or symptoms of opioid misuse or possible addiction include:1
Using more of the prescribed drugs or using them longer than intended
Using while doing something dangerous, such as driving
Using despite physical or mental problems
Using despite legal or social problems
Can’t control or cut down use
Spending lots of time finding drugs or recovering from use
Skipping or cut down important activities
Having a strong desire or urge to use
Becoming tolerant – In other words, need more of the drug or need to take it more often
Having withdrawals – The presence of physical symptoms when trying to stop
What to Ask Your Doctor Before Taking Opioids: A Checklist
Opioids can have some very serious side effects. Use this checklist provided by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ask your health care provider questions before taking opioids
How is Blue Cross NC Helping?
Requiring providers to prescribe the safest options before progressing to stronger medications
Providing opioids risk screening / education
Participating in the NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Payers’ Council to partner on pharmacy policies
Partnering with the NC Medical Board to promote greater education
Requiring prior authorization / quantity limits on all extended release opiates
Contacting providers with significantly higher rates of opioids prescribing
Monitoring for patients who “prescription shop” with multiple providers / pharmacies
Alerting prescribers of high risk
Coverage of addiction treatment
Coverage of non-drug pain management therapies (e.g., physical therapy, chiropractic care, aquatic therapy, steroid joint injections)
Medication-assisted therapy coverage
Covered telehealth options for behavioral health and substance abuse
Network of substance abuse professionals and facilities
Medical policies/prior review to ensure appropriate treatment
24-hour phone line for members to discuss opioids usage and get help with addiction
What Can You Do to Help?
In response to the Opioid Crisis in our state, Blue Cross NC is working with pharmacies and health care industry leaders to install medication drop-off points in almost every county. Help us keep our communities safe. Learn more about how you can store your prescriptions or dispose of them safely.
- Don’t share your medication with family or friends.
- Keep your medication in a locked box or cabinet. You can return unused opioid medications at any law enforcement office in North Carolina.
- Drop off unused medications at any of our partner pharmacy locations listed below.
Walgreens Drop-Off Locations
What Do I Do If I Need Help?
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Hotline
Blue Cross NC members, call the Mental Health number on the back of your ID card.
Find a Pain Management Provider
Log in to Blue Connect and use our Find a Doctor tool to search for the right provider for you.