In recent days, President Trump has declared the opioid crisis in America a Public Health Emergency. There is no doubt that this is a valid thing to do, but the question is, it is enough? Opioid addiction has been taking over America, person by person, town by town. People who never thought they would be affected are, and drug overdose has become the number one preventable cause of death in younger people. It is even above car wrecks!
To put things into perspective, back in 1980 drug overdose deaths per year were at about 5,000. In the last recorded year, 2016, they were over 64,000. And, while 2017 isn’t in the books yet, all evidence points to it being even worse than last year.
What is Going to Happen with the Opioid Crisis Now?
While the President’s declaration, there has certainly been even more attention drawn to the issue, with the topic of the opioid crisis flooding almost all major news outlets. However, it has been a topic of interest for quite some time. Unfortunately, the President did not declare a National Emergency on opioids, which would have generated additional federal funding to help combat the issue.
This isn’t to say that he may not request additional funding in the future. In his own words, according to an article in the New York Times, he said “No part of our society – not young or old, right or poor, urban or rural – has been spared this plague of drug addiction and this horrible situation that’s taken place with opioids.” He seems to be focused on fighting drug addiction through education and advertising, and prescribers to be trained in safe practices.
It is too early to tell what kind of changes, if any, his plan will bring. On a ground level, it is certain that education is a key component to fighting opioid addiction, but what about the people who are already in the grips of addiction? These are the people we see come through our doors every day. They are also the people who can’t get a bed in a treatment center because everything is filled to capacity. They are the people who are dying on the streets, or in their parent’s bathroom, or at a friend’s party because of a bad batch or overdose. At this point, education and advertising won’t help them.
What You Can Do About the Opioid Crisis
First and foremost, if you are suffering from addiction to opioids, know that help is out there, and get it as fast as possible. Being an active user is almost as certain as a death sentence, and the only way to get out of it is to get clean. As impossible as it may seem and as many times as you have tried, there are treatment centers that will work for you. The key is to start with a medically supervised detox, followed by a rehabilitation program that lasts at least a month. This way, you will be able to completely immerse yourself in your healing and learn healthy coping mechanisms to replace your addiction.
If you suspect that a loved one is addicted to opiates, be there for them. Encourage them to get help, and make sure that you aren’t unintentionally enabling them by giving them money for drugs (even if they say it isn’t for that), or offering them other things.
If you are simply scared of the opioid crisis and how it can affect you and your loved ones, education is key. Make sure you are aware of what opioid medicines are because most addictions begin in the doctor’s office. Research any medication you are prescribed, no matter what your doctor tells you. Knowledge is power, and knowing what you are taking can save the lives of you and your family.