America’s Mounting Opioid Crisis
To say that America is experiencing a problem with opiates would be an understatement.
At the end of 2016, the CDC reported its latest findings on the ever-prominent opioid epidemic consuming the United States. Between the years 2010 and 2015, levels of opiate abuse and addiction continued to rise, in spite of efforts to understand and quell the underlying causes of opioid abuse.
During this five-year period, the rate of opiate abuse increased in 30 states. Opioid death rates increased by 15.6% from 2014 to 2015.
From 1999 to 2014, rates of opiate addiction tripled. As doctors and scientists in the United States learn more about opiate abuse, they do their best to shift treatment and implement the best methods of prevention. But still, in 2015, rates of opiate abuse and death from opioid overdose still continued to increase – more than 33,000 people died that year. Public health officials have recently called the epidemic the worst drug crisis in American history.
But all of these numbers and statistics fail to capture the people behind the opioid epidemic. Who are the Americans fighting opiate addiction for themselves or for a loved one, and why is it so difficult for them to find and stick with treatment?
As the latest statistics have made the rounds, news outlets have connected to people pursuing addiction recovery, trying to find out why treatment can be difficult at the individual level. OTCOA explains some of the patterns in these latest stories, and how alternative approaches to treatment can help.
Traditional Treatment Interferes with Daily Life
Typical approaches to addiction treatment ask an opiate user to leave their life behind. That can be difficult, nearly impossible, when work and family take precedence.
One family of three children, who lost both parents to an overdose in 2015, blames these factors as part their parent’s untimely death in an interview with the Washington Post:
“They had been trying to get clean — always trying to get clean — and they had both gone away to detox early that April with plans to quit for good. But they couldn’t afford to miss very many days of work, and they couldn’t stand being apart from the kids, so they had come home early and then overdosed a few days later.”
Often, those who suffer from addiction are those that can least afford to disappear from their obligations in order to seek help. Stories like this highlight the need for opiate abuse treatment to be an accessible, affordable part of a patient’s normal life. Outpatient care allows you or a loved one to seek treatment without giving up your family, your job or your life.
Treatment Programs Don’t Always Work the First Time
In addition to the difficulty of access and the expense, many people who discussed their time in rehabilitation facilities found that one trip wasn’t enough to treat their addiction.
Though traditional rehabilitation facilities may have the best intentions at heart, sometimes their closed, idyllic environments don’t prepare patients to deal with the stress of the real world after rehab. Other times, insurance companies will only cover a few days of rehabilitation, forcing patients to leave before they’re truly ready.
A New York Times story shows the difficulty of finding an effective, lasting recovery plan. When a doctor asks a group of patients in a rehabilitation facility how many had been to five different treatment centers, almost all 19 raised their hands. Almost half had been to at least ten.
Effective, lasting treatment is the key to recovering from opiate addiction. If you or someone you care about has cycled in and out of programs, it can feel hopeless and harder to return every time. Scientifically-backed, proven treatment can help to end this cycle and begin the process of long-term recovery.
The Right Treatment Isn’t Always Available
This issue is two-fold: not only is the right treatment for opiate addiction often inaccessible, a dearth in the right kind of pain management can exacerbate a community’s addiction problem to begin with.
A story from KUNC considering Logan County, CO, found that doctors in this rural community often lack the resources to prescribe a full regimen of pain management, including forms of drug-free recovery. Instead, they would overprescribe pain medicine to help alleviate their patient’s discomfort.
“For more than a decade, opioids have been a key part of a rural doctor’s pain management for patients… When there’s a lack of treatment options in a rural area, alternatives like physical therapy are out of the question and drugs are a prime option.”
Then, when patients become addicted to pain medication, the right resources are not available to help them with their opioid abuse.
“Medication-assisted treatment for drug addiction is also limited, leaving those addicted forced to drive hours to get prescriptions for Buprenorphine [Suboxone], an opioid used to wean people off heroin and other illicit forms of the drug.”
Medication-assisted treatment can be one of the most effective and affordable approaches to treating addiction when combined with behavioral therapy. One part of the answer to America’s opioid epidemic may be to introduce medication-assisted therapy where other traditional treatments have failed to produce results.
Are you seeking new solutions to opiate addiction for yourself or a family member? OTCOA provides accessible, scientifically-backed outpatient care. If you’re struggling to break the cycle, contact OTCOA and see if we can help.