Preventing Prescription Opioid Overdoses in New York State

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A pile of prescription medicine bottles.

Like many states, New York is suffering from the consequences of the opioid overdose epidemic. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of overdoses due to both prescription and illicit drug use in recent years. Overdoses are killing people of all races and ages. The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) is coordinating statewide prevention interventions to save lives and prevent opioid overdoses.

Adapting the RxAwareness Campaign for New York State

Tamera's Rx Awarness story
The Rx Awareness campaign videos tell the real stories of people whose lives have been negatively impacted by prescription opioid use and abuse.

The NYSDOH’s Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention Program is using the CDC RxAwareness Campaign. The campaign ran from February 2018 to June 2018. This is an evidence-driven prescription opioid overdose prevention campaign that tells the real stories of people whose lives have been torn apart by opioid use and abuse.  The campaign aims to:

  • Increase everyone’s awareness that opioids can be addictive and dangerous
  • Increase the number of individuals that choose options other than opioids for safe and effective pain management
  • Decrease the number of individuals who use opioids for non-medical or recreational reasons

NYSDOH is using six 30-second testimonial video ads and five 30-second radio ads featuring people and families affected by prescription opioid abuse and overdose. This campaign includes Facebook ads, popular website display banners, streaming audio, and Google Search ads. Web banner ads and online search ads designed and audience tested by CDC were also used.

Real-time Monitoring Makes a Difference

The beauty of digital marketing is that it allows for real-time monitoring and optimization. The NYSDOH monitored two key metrics from the campaign every week:

  1. Click-through rates (CTR): the ratio of people who clicked on an ad compared to the total number of people who viewed the ad.
  2. Cost-per-click (CPC): the price that is paid for each click on the ad.

Continuously assessing the performance of individual ads allowed NYSDOH to swap out lower performing ads for higher performing ads. For example, mobile placements were showing strong performance, so more of the budget was allocated towards these placements and the budget for lower performing ads was reduced. High performance ads have greater reach, which leads to greater impact and increases the likelihood that the campaign will achieve its goals.

Evaluation Findings Help NY Maximize their Ad Budget

NYSDOH learned several things through real-time monitoring and evaluation:

  • Overall, women are spending nearly twice as long as men on the DOH campaign website,
  • Adults 35 to 54 years old have a stronger click-through rate than the adults who are 35 to 54 years old and parents of teenagers
  • Banners on one weather site currently have the highest click-through rates and have resulted in the longest average time spent on the landing page
  • The click-through rates of online search ads increased consistently from May – June 2018
  • Public commenting on ads help NYSDOH understand how the campaign is being accepted

The NYSDOH continues to evaluate activity in this campaign. NYSDOH will utilize these findings in future campaigns.

Learn more:

This communication campaign was supported by the Cooperative Agreement Number, 5 NU17CE002742-03, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services.

We want to hear from you!

Leave a comment below and share how you are monitoring and evaluating your digital campaigns.

The Communication Research and Evaluation blog series highlights innovative research and evaluation methods used at CDC to improve behavior change campaigns. In the coming months we will look at other examples.

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8 comments on “Preventing Prescription Opioid Overdoses in New York State”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    What about the opioids that are being given during childbirth in Mom’s epidural. We know it passes over to the fetus in way higher dose, according to his/her body weight. Not to mention that Fentanyl affects brain structure in adolescents. What about fetuses?

    Hi, I am a CMS Government contractor, for 10 years. I have been working with Medicare, Medicaid on guidance changes, policy changes, and I implement them for the health plans.
    Recently, the opioid epidemic has hit especially close to me, and it is my obligation as a government contractor and as a chronic pain patient to speak up.
    I have ankylosing Spondylitis (a very aggressive auto-immune disease)and there is no cure. Due to the opioid hysteria, my doctor & every doctor within 100 miles from me is cutting all their patients off their medicine. I called 30 more doctors looking for help, and got the same speech “we no longer prescribe opioids, only injections”. I’ve been in pain management for 7 years and always took medicine as prescribed. My medicine allows me to work, and take care of my family. I am fully disabled, but because of my meds I work, and do not need social security, yet. But, without medicine I can’t walk, or stand up. The pain is excruciating. I was forced into 3 steroid injections, and nerve burning or “find a new doctor”. And as I said already, I can’t find another doctor. The pain got even worse after these procedures, and now I have less medicine as well. . I’m being offered MMJ, instead of my meds. MMJ works for many, but I can’t work/focus and take that, as I need medicine around the clock. I tried it once, and I couldn’t work for 2 days afterward, my mind was cloudy and I couldn’t concentrate, I had to take time off of work. My job is mentally demanding. The medicines I was on for years, allowed that. I had no problems with focus, and could work. My family relies on me for health insurance, and is 100% of our income. I have 2 boys age 9 and 12. They see mom cry all the time, and my youngest want to become a doctor, so that he can help me. I was doing great, until my meds were force tapered. It is not my doctors fault, she is afraid of the FDA and the CDC.
    The pain in my spine is equivalent to labor pain 24/7/365. Imagine that pain, every day, hour, and minute, and it never goes away. The only relief I get, if from my medicine, which has already been cut in half. I can’t get out of bed. My bones are fusing together and I’ve tried EVERY Alternative that exists (Physical therapy, massage, chiropractor, biologics(I almost died 3 times from biologics) Nsaids, DMARD’s, muscle relaxers, acupuncture). How is this helping people? Why are we ignored, when billions of dollars are being funneled toward addiction clinics, safe injection suites, free medicine etc. yet Pain patients are left behind? There are 2 separate and distinct problems. Illicit drugs, which is the cause of the epidemic (and has been for a 100 years), and now chronic patients being left to suffer and die. Less than 1% of pain patients become addicted. There are studies from the NIH, the FDA on addiction rate of OxyContin, with over 80,000 patients. Why are these studies ignored? To fuel an epidemic and blame the wrong cause, because the government is too afraid to go after the real problem, Illicit Drugs? We don’t commit crimes to get our fix, we are just trying to take care of our children, and go to work. We don’t get High when we take our medicine. I don’t even know what this “high” is. The medicine is to help reduce the pain. Oxycontin doesn’t cause addiction just like the cast doesn’t cause the broken leg. My only option is suicide but I can’t leave behind my 2 sons. Living in agony, is not living, and its not worth living. These meds are needed for people like me, but why do I have less rights than the people who abuse them in the first place? I guess people don’t realize suboxone is highly diverted, and in 5 years we will have the same problems, a suboxone crisis. Also, the most frustrating thing, is that suboxone or any other MAT, IS JUST ANOTHER OPIOID. So why are chronic pain patients left to suffer, while folks with substance abuse problems get their meds for free, can get them over the phone (new laws being passed) when they were the ones to cause these problems in the first place. People with the addiction gene will always have an issue and will just find the next things to abuse. These people cannot be helped, until they are willing to help themselves. Yes, something needs to be done to help addiction, but something also needs to be done to help 100 million people with chronic pain!!!! And why am I being tossed aside like garbage when I never abused my meds, because of people who do abuse meds? This is a choice they make each and every day to go get meds that are not medically necessary. I just want to go to work. In the midst of this crisis, chronic pain patients & vets are committing suicide and turning to street drugs to find relief, because there is no doctors left who will care for us. Lastly, there has been studies about the safety of opioid medicine and FDA approvals, so why is the CDC saying there is not? Look at the 25 million of us who have been successful on opioids for 10+ years. Ask any one of us if these medicines work.

    I am glad to see this campaign in effect. I also noticed that Narcan is now more prevalently available, I believe through First Responders and I am not sure how else. I am glad to see this also and hope to see improvement in success against overdoses and deaths from opioid use or abuse. I wonder if those treated with Narcan in the “field” get in to the hospital for treatment, observation or followup after such events for other problems related or unrelated to addiction, such as dehydration or metabolic problems. An evaluation of such parameters can help discover what resources might be needed or missing from the home. I am not in a position to observe that directly. I understand that it is uncomfortable and rather dramatic the immediate effects and response to the treatment but I had no followup that there any other complications and the patients suffering are the ones in fact with the answers, hidden or obvious. I know of no reported deaths from the area I have observed of opioid overdose but I am always concerned. I have had trouble with a person switching my pills or taking them and I am glad First Responders carry the treatment. That person is not around me any more.

    To cb: You are exactly right. Just because there are people who misuse and abuse drugs, all of us have to suffer. With my back pain, Percocet is what works for me. I can take it, get relief, and still function. There is nothing else that works nearly as well. But, I am not able to get it. Doctors are too scared to prescribe it. I agree with you that no one seems to care about true chronic pain sufferers. It makes me very angry also that because of drug abusers, I have to suffer even though I have never misused a drug in my life. All I know to do is continue to speak up.

    Your guidelines are hurting chronic pain patients. My daughter has Trigeminal Neuralgia and pain management Drs are cutting patients off. Her disease is nicknamed the suicide disease for a reason. She has type 2 TN and opiates are very effective in reducing her pain and giving her a reason to live. There are no alternative treatments to help her. She’s had brain surgery to remove the artery and veins that were wrapped around her nerve but she was left with nerve damage. She is 19 years old and in pain 25/7 365. She is starting college in the fall. She needs medicine to help get her through the day. She’s been on meds for 2 years. She graduated from high school Salutatorian of her class. She had to take this medicines to get through the last year of high school and without them I don’t know that she could have finished. She has taken the same dosage for two years and thankfully has not required a dosage increase. You are killing people. We have mourned the deaths of 4 people in the TN community that decided to take their lives after being cut off from their pain relief. Please stop this from a mother that watches her child suffer on a daily basis and can do nothing please I beg you think of chronic pain patients you are hurting.

    It’s not an opioid crisis, it’s opioid hysteria, thanks to deceptive data from the CDC. The CDCs statistics were INTENTIONALLY skewed to make prescription opioids look like the main cause of the so-called “epidemic”. The CDC included all deaths caused by fentanyl in the prescription opioid death statistics, even though 95% of those deaths were caused by illicit, NOT prescription fentanyl. Deaths caused by prescription opioids have actually dropped over the past few years. Of course, the media jumped on the story and is pushing it as gospel truth, and gullible people are believing it.

    The CDC has no business shutting down access to pain medications for chronic pain patients. This opioid war has turned into a war on Chronic pain suffers driven by the CDC! I just wish you people making these decisions had to live with the pain I live with 24 /7. Stop this before the suicide rate spikes from your stupidity!

    Great comments from all. Thank you. I’m 60 year old ex-roofer, countless ruptures, nerve damage, etc. I fought having to take opioids for many years, and suffered many sleepless nights…Never wanted to take opioids for pain, especially NOT for abuse! Now, no choice. CDC, I just cannot understand why we chronic pain patients keep getting mixed together with abusers? I knew people who have died from opioid abuse and thats why I never wanted to take them. I have pity for addicts. Seen the damage. But opioids are necessary for ALOT of pain patients. Used responsibly, they are good.

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Page last reviewed: August 8, 2018
Page last updated: August 8, 2018