With the staggering number of fatalities caused by opioid and heroin overdoses we have seen in the past few years, we must ask ourselves, when will change come about? In Pennsylvania alone, the overdose rate has increased dramatically between 2010 and 2014. According to the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, heroin overdoses skyrocketed 162% and pain medication overdoses went up 200%, not to mention those numbers are based solely on reports of those hospitalized.
Recently, President Obama sat on a panel at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta to address the issues at hand. The President said America needs to change the way it looks at drug addiction. “What we have to recognize in this global economy of ours, the most important thing we can do is to reduce the demand for drugs. And the only way we reduce demand, is if we are providing treatment and thinking about this as a public health problem and not just a criminal problem.” President Obama went on to mention the dilemma we face now is that treatment is extremely underfunded, particularly in rural areas.
In hopes to combat this crisis, the Obama Administration has proposed a bill of $1.1 billion, which they hope will be passed in Congress. The bill is broken into several parts, but its premise is to make certain that treatment is easily accessible to those who want it, above all those who suffer from an opioid addiction. Funding will provide access to more treatment providers, new prevention techniques, proper training to physicians prescribing pain medications, prescription drug monitoring, more availability to Narcan and the assistance in new law enforcement strategies.
Pennsylvania, along with 34 other states, has already made attempts to prevent the death rate from increasing anymore. Now residents can purchase Naloxone, the overdose reversal drug also known as Narcan, in major pharmacies like Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens over-the-counter. Although it is not treatment for drug addiction, it may be the only thing standing in the way of someone living or dying at that moment.
When you hear an astounding number of 28,648 dead in 2014 from heroin and pain meds, what do you think? We have to begin asking different questions and creating a new perspective. This is no longer your stereotypical low-income urban crisis. It’s a plague on all of society. It creeps into the homes of everyday lives and destroys families. The farmer who once had a back injury now abuses his pain medications, the all-star cheerleader who had high hopes of becoming someone important now injects heroin in her parents’ bathroom, the nurse that has easy access to her drug of choice. You’ve heard the stories. This fatal disease does not care who we are, where we’re from or how much money we make. It will kill us all the same.
Awareness is only the beginning. The state of Pennsylvania and several others across the nation have begun to change the conversation. The stigma that is attached to addiction and the misguided understanding that addiction is a moral failing is now being reconsidered. We have to keep an open-mind to the disease of addiction and its treatment, because without it, thousands more will die. People can and do recover, but we can increase that number ten-fold with the proper funding and resources.
At Clearbrook, we have been providing quality treatment and education to those struggling with alcohol and drugs for more than four decades. We have been blessed to have been a part of the journey of so many who now live in recovery. If you are currently struggling, please let us help.
Our Admissions Specialists are on-call 24/7 and will be happy to guide you down the path to recovery. That first phone call could be what changes your life before you become one of these statistics.