Spotlight on the Opioid Crisis

September 21, 2018

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released preliminary data in 2017 which stated that overdose deaths increased by almost 10%, taking the lives of more than 70,000 Americans.  Out of all of those deaths, about 48,000 were opioid overdose deaths.  Again, out of those 48,000 deaths, the greatest increase was related to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.

Even though effective treatment for addiction is a real thing, only about one in four people with a substance use disorder receive any treatment for their addiction.  Reasons for this include stigma, inability to access or afford care, or denial or refusal to stop using opioids.

All of this is exacerbated by the healthcare workforce lacking qualified staff.  They don’t have the training to implement medication assisted treatment services or identify early diagnoses of addiction, or utilize other evidence based recommendations.

However, working together to remedy this is the federal government along with key stakeholders to address this problem head on.  Grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Society of America and funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration went to community health centers in an attempt to expand services to substance addiction and mental health treatment as well as hiring more professionals who are trained to provide primary care services and behavioral health services.  The good news is that there are indications that attempts to stunt to opioid crisis has been successful, with the use of medication assisted treatment growing considerably as indicated by the number of Americans “starting to use heroin” dropping significantly from 2016-2017.

What can you do to help with the opioid epidemic?

Take care of yourself, be mindful of the medications you take or are prescribed to you, and store this medication in a secure plan, getting rid of any unused medication properly.

If you are in pain, have a candid conversation with your doctor or healthcare provider.

Educate yourself on the vocabulary of addiction, and the facts and myths surrounding addiction as a disease

Get and learn how to use naloxone, you can obtain naloxone (Narcan) by going to visiting the Ohio Harm Reduction Website or get a prescription from your primary care physician.

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