The nation’s opioid epidemic is a continuous and heartbreaking challenge. It is estimated that more than 2.5 million Americans now have substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers or heroin. Drug overdose deaths related to opioids are also on the rise. Between January 2016 and January 2017, there were 64,070 opioid-related overdose deaths, a 21 percent increase from the prior year.
Although the opioid crisis remains a national issue, much of the social and financial burden of tackling addiction is shouldered by the individual states. In October 2017, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) published a detailed guide for state policymakers to more effectively target addiction treatment and prevention.
Recommendations to Prevent Opioid Misuse and Addiction
Obviously, the best way to win the war on drugs is to prevent people from ever misusing them in the first place. The guide has several recommendations to prevent opioid misuse and addiction that include:
- Public Education and Awareness Campaigns. This includes ad campaigns as well as programs in schools to target education and prevention.
- Reduce Availability of Opioids. Programs such as Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs), Prescription Take-Back Programs, and Safe Prescribing Initiatives for Pain Management can help prevent addiction.
- More Professional Training in Addiction Care. The guide recommends additional training for professionals in addiction prevention.
- Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT). This is a screening initiative that incentivizes health care professionals to identify and address substance abuse-related problems as early as possible.
Reducing Opioid Overdose Deaths and Other Harmful Outcomes
Stopping or cutting down on the skyrocketing numbers of drug overdose deaths is one of the main objectives of this guide. Other harmful consequences of drug abuse include legal issues, the impact on families, and other health-related issues. The guide recommends:
- Increased Access to Naloxone. States that provide more first-responders and laypersons with access to Naloxone (Narcan) can help prevent more opioid overdose deaths.
- Implementing Syringe Exchange Programs (SEPs). SEPs can help reduce the instances of blood-borne diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C.
- Monitoring and Reacting to Fast-Changing Drug Trends. Partnerships with public health officials and crime labs can help states react quickly to trends, such as a batch of dangerous drugs found in the community.
Recommendations For Improving Opioid Addiction Treatment
The report concludes that most people who are receiving addiction treatment are not getting adequate care that will prepare them for long-term recovery from drug addiction. Some the recommendations include:
- Increasing Treatment Capacity and Making Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) Available. The guide recommends that states review treatment accessibility within each state, whether treatment centers have waiting lists, and whether they provide medication assistance such as buprenorphine or not.
- Improving the Quality of Addiction Treatment. Addiction treatment centers should treat addiction as a chronic disease, providing specialized care that includes a comprehensive mental health assessment.
- Improving Insurance Coverage for Addiction Treatment. States should work to improve insurance coverage by filling in gaps left by federal healthcare legislation so that there is more coverage for addiction treatment.
- Providing Better Support Services Following Treatment. Since recovery from addiction requires long-term management, there should be support and auxiliary services in place to help individuals and their families after treatment.
Where to Get Qualified Opioid Addiction Treatment
Drug addiction is a serious disease that can have a life-changing impact on both the addict and their loved ones. While states are trying to educate the public and create programs to address drug addiction, they can only do so much. If you or any of your loved ones are struggling with a substance abuse issue, The Recovery Village can help through its specialized addiction treatment programs.