Opioid abuse is an epidemic in the United States, and many people have witnessed the crippling effects this addictive drug can bring.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that every day, 91 people die from overdoses caused by opioid abuse. In 2015, over 12 million people in the U.S. abused prescription opioids. This has led to skyrocketing emergency room visits and a dramatic increase in hospitalizations. As with any addiction, people who fall victim to opioid abuse come from different backgrounds and diverse walks of life.
Thanks to Naxolone – which has the ability to block the effects of opioids, ultimately reversing an overdose – doctors and EMT personnel have been able to save countless lives. However, Naloxone is only one component in the battle to dismantle this opioid epidemic. As a community, we must take on this task collectively to ensure that our friends and loved ones who are struggling with this disease are given a chance at a long and productive life.
We must also look for physicians who are dedicated to spreading prevention and awareness and are willing to work with at-risk patients. These doctors should be prepared to refer patients struggling with substance abuse to the treatment appropriate for that patient’s circumstances. Each state has a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program which contains critical information about each patient’s history with prescription medication. Doctors should familiarize themselves with this information and take this history into account when addressing the patient’s needs. Doctors should also be trained in Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for substance abuse cases so as to be able to recognize when this particular approach should be recommended.
Of course, doctors cannot be expected to take on this daunting task on their own, and that’s where individuals really come in. Whether as a parent, a friend, a teacher, or an elected official in your local government - when you can see that someone is struggling, your must help fight for their success. So much progress has been made when it comes to awareness of addiction and recovery, and the more we educate ourselves, the more prepared we’ll be to help our loved ones.