Today’s opiate addiction epidemic has gained considerable momentum since the turn of the 21st century. What was once confined to urban areas just 20 years ago now affects people from all walks of life.
According to the Department of Health & Human Services, overdose-related deaths involving prescription painkillers and heroin have nearly quadrupled since 1999. In the absence of some form of action, the next 20 years may well see addiction’s impact reach a point of no return in the United States.
With a Republican-run Congress in place, President-Elect Donald Trump has the wind at his back as America decides how to tackle a growing opiate addiction epidemic. With newly passed legislation ready to be put into action, all that’s missing is a steady hand on the tiller.
While Mr. Trump has laid out a few plans on how he will combat addiction rates, many key factors still remain up in the air, one of which being health care coverage.
Opiate Addiction Treatment 2017 – Donald Trump’s Objectives
As a presidential candidate, Trump listed a few of his plans for dealing with the opiate addiction epidemic of today:
- Building a wall across the Mexican border to stop the influx of heroin
- Making naloxone, the drug used to treat opiate overdose more accessible
- Restrict the amount of prescription opioids manufactured in the United States
- Provide incentives for state and local governments to mandate treatment provisions
- Prosecute drug traffickers
- Close shipping loopholes for drugs like fentanyl that come from China
- Speed up the Food & Drug Administration’s approval process of non-opioid pain medications
While Trump’s plans appear to address the addiction problem from all angles, he has yet to introduce plans to change the way opiate addiction is treated. As opiate addiction already has a firm foothold across communities, the relapse aspect of addiction must be addressed in order for any real progress to be made.
Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act
As of July 2016, the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act, or CARA was signed into law. According to GovTrack, this piece of legislation lays out key objectives for enhancing opiate addiction treatment services:
- Make medication-assisted treatments, such as methadone and buprenorphine more accessible
- Identify and treat incarcerated individuals rather than relying on imprisonment to deter drug-related crimes
- Improve prescription drug monitoring programs and make needed treatment accessible for at-risk individuals who attempt to scam the system
With a ready-made piece of legislation in place, CARA nicely compliments Trump’s plans for attacking the opiate addiction epidemic. More importantly, CARA incorporates action-based measures for changing how opiate addiction is treated.
An Uncertain Future for Affordable Care Act Provisions
While having a plan in place to combat opiate addiction rates in this country is critical, ensuring those who need treatment help can afford it is equally important. The Affordable Care Act of 2010, or ACA makes provisions for people who need opiate addiction treatment to access and pay for treatment services.
To date, it’s unknown whether Trump will repeal the ACA or modify it. Without a solid plan for ensuring affected individuals can afford to take advantage of changes made in the treatment delivery system, any plans made will likely be for naught.
If you or someone you know needs help overcoming opiate addiction’s effects in your life, please don’t hesitate to call our helpline at 800-442-6158 Who Answers? to speak with one of our addiction counselors.
Nowadays, most everyone knows of someone who’s been affected by opiate addiction, though the addiction itself may not be plainly recognizable. With addiction rates steadily on the climb, a good majority of people have been affected by opiate addiction’s effects in one way or another.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, opiate-related overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999 with a death rate of 91 people per day from opiate overdose alone. Along with a handful of other initiatives, the 21st Century Cures Act seeks to invest resources into ensuring anyone who needs opiate addiction treatment can get it.
The question as to whether these efforts can stop opiate addiction will likely hinge on the degree of planning that goes into rooting out addiction and actually taking the steps to get it done.
What is the 21st Century Cures Act?
The 21st Century Cures Act, a piece of legislation approved by the U. S. Congress in December 2016, seeks to take steps towards eliminating some of the biggest health concerns this country faces. According to WhiteHouse.gov, the 21st Century Cures Act lays out five initiatives:
- Making opioid addiction treatment available and accessible to those who need it
- Investing in cancer research
- Investing in brain disorder research and personalized treatment care
- Mental health care reforms and suicide prevention programs
- Opening up the lines of communication between the FDA and consumers
In effect, the 21st Century Cures Act will allot $1 billion dollars in state grants to fight opiate abuse and fund ongoing opiate addiction research studies.
The Planning Process – Opiate Addiction Treatment Initiatives
Dealing with today’s opiate addiction epidemic will require a multi-pronged approach that meets the problem at the places where it tends to grow and thrive. This means identifying areas where rates of addiction can be reduced or stopped altogether.
According to the Committee on Energy Commerce, the 21st Century Cures Act lays out a comprehensive plan for improving government’s response to opiate addiction. Plan initiatives include the following:
- Creating new programs that provide alternatives to imprisonment for people struggling with substance abuse disorders
- Allotting $12.5 million for community crisis response systems to address substance abuse and mental disorders
- Expanding the federal drug court system, which is designed to treat those dealing with substance abuse problems
- Provide additional training for recovery support workforces in areas of drug prevention and treatment
- Integrating substance abuse and mental health treatment systems
While the 21st Century Care Act makes ample provisions for meeting community needs and filling treatment gaps, the future of the Affordable Care Act can present yet another roadblock to its effectiveness. If those who need help have no financial means to cover opiate addiction treatment costs, few will be able to benefit from the changes the 21st Century Care Act brings.
Getting It Done
Considering it took nearly three years for Congress to pass the 21st Century Cures Act, one must wonder how long it will take to put it into action. According to Georgetown University, the Act itself is nearly 1,000 pages in length and has few actual deadlines for completing the many initiatives contained in its pages.
This, coupled with the changes and growth that must take place within the Food & Drug Administration for the Act to be carried out means it will likely take more than a few years to actually implement this new piece of legislation.
Prince Rogers Nelson, the musician known simply as Prince, was found dead in his Paisley Park recording studio on April 21 of this year. Prince’s friend Kirk Johnson, his personal assistant Meron Bekure, and an addiction specialist stumbled upon the artist unresponsive in an elevator. The police were immediately called, but later reports indicated Prince had been dead for six hours before the discovery of his body.
When the news hit the public, there were as many theories about his death as there were people grieving. Everyone has a slightly different version of what must have happened. The first related detail released was that the pop star’s plane made an emergency landing in Moine, Illinois the week before his death. The media reported that he was treated with Narcan, an opioid antidote, at the local hospital. It was this incident that caused those close to the star to call in an addiction specialist.
What Killed Prince?
Ultimately, it was revealed that Prince had suffered an overdose of the powerful opioid fentanyl. Like so many other Americans, the artist was treating his chronic pain with a chemically synthesized opioid medication.
He was not alone in overdosing. In fact, 2014 was distinguished as the year with the highest number of drug overdose deaths on record. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report six out of every ten deaths were caused by an opioid overdose.
Perhaps, this event can serve as the genesis for an important conversation about opioid overdose caused by prescription painkillers. What follows is a discussion of the dangers posed by fentanyl and other, similar drugs and some solutions that could have saved Prince and can save you from death.
If you have a problem with fentanyl or another opioid, you are placing yourself in danger. But, addiction is so powerful that the risk to your life may not be a strong enough one to induce you to stop using. You need help, and we would like to offer it. Call 800-442-6158 Who Answers? and speak to an expert who will be happy to direct you to the help you deserve.
What Is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is a powerful synthetic opioid painkiller that is similar to other opioids, specifically morphine. However, it is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. It is clearly a Schedule II prescription drug, meaning it has “a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.”
The medication is primarily used to treat individuals suffering from extreme pain or to manage pain after surgery. It changes the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain. It may be used to treat patients who experience chronic pain, like Prince, and are physically tolerant to other opioids, among which fentanyl is considered particularly fast acting.
How Can a Person Overdose on a Drug Like Fentanyl?
Often, prescription drugs seem safe because they are provided by medical professionals. But, many users move from strict adherence to a doctor’s instructions to increasingly erratic use. It isn’t hard to fall victim to the addictive quality of opioids, especially when you are using them to battle chronic pain. A harmless short-term prescription can quickly transform into long-term dependence.
Millions who suffer from chronic pain are desperate for relief and they may begin to take larger or more frequent doses to dull their physical agony. When people take larger doses, they develop tolerance to the drug and this means that they must continue taking larger and larger doses to achieve the pain relief initially provided.
Once you develop tolerance, you also become dependent and cannot stop taking the opioid medication without triggering terrible withdrawals. It is likely that Prince was dependent, but no proof was offered that he was addicted.
Regardless, larger and larger doses ultimately leads, for many people, to a dose that is too large for the body to handle. Most people who overdose on fentanyl die from respiratory depression; they go to sleep and they don’t wake up.
What Can Be Done?
It has been demonstrated that abstinence only treatments for opioid dependence, especially for those in chronic pain, are not successful. It actually causes a higher chance of overdose, as people return to drug use to stop the withdrawal symptoms and often their previously taken dose has become too much for them to handle.
Instead, doctors recommend medication-assisted treatment using a drug like buprenorphine, which reduces the potential for misuse, risk in situations of overdose, and withdrawal and cravings. As the newest opioid medication approved by the FDA, buprenorphine has proven highly effective.
To find a treatment center that uses medication-assisted treatment for opioid dependence and addiction, contact 800-442-6158 Who Answers? . We can help you find a structured, professional program that can help you break the cycle of opioid dependence before it is too late.
When entering treatment for drug addiction, there are usually certain things that are okay and certain things that are not okay. Depending on the program or facility, different things might be considered a “treatment faux pas” and are frowned upon. In some groups, discussing your addiction “war story” is something that should be avoided.
Before you can worry about what is acceptable and what isn’t during treatment, you should first contact 800-442-6158 Who Answers? to find out what treatment options are best for you in order to overcome your addiction.
What Are Addiction War Stories?
“War stories”, when it comes to addiction, are stories about a person’s experiences with addiction that might have resulted in a life-or-death situation. They might involve moments when the addiction was at its strongest or even involve pivotal moments for the person in the addiction.
Sometimes, these war stories can be important in understanding the person’s addiction and how treatment can be applied. Keep in mind that every person is affected by addiction differently, so often treatment needs to be customized the person’s needs, thus there are times when war stories can be quite helpful.
Why Are They Not Okay?
There are three key aspects to successful addiction treatment, according to the NIDA: the person must stop using, remain drug-free, and become a productive person in their family and society. For some treatment programs, the easiest way to achieve these aspects and success is to look forward, not backward.
Sharing a war story about your addiction can be seen as something that is preventing you from moving forward. While addressing what happened and what you did while under the influence of your addiction is important to overcoming it, it can be detrimental to your sobriety and recovery to repeatedly dwell on the past.
For some groups, addiction war stories might be seen as a means of unhealthy competition, especially in group treatment settings. The DEA states that the effect drugs have is different for everyone, so it would be safe to say that not everyone is going to have the same experiences and war stories as the person next to them.
However, some might see it as boasting or bragging about your experiences, even though that is probably not what is actually happening. Others might be reminded about a negative experience, which can trigger uncomfortable or upsetting memories and affect their progress in treatment.
What Are The Alternatives?
Not everything is appropriate for every situation, even when seeking treatment for addiction. For war stories, it might be best to keep them out of group settings, leaving them for one-on-one discussions with your treatment provider during individual therapy sessions.
If you’re not sure if something you want to share is appropriate for a group setting, talk it over with your sponsor of counselor before the session. Pay attention to the topics being shared at group sessions if you are unsure about what to talk about.
One alternative could be sharing a story about your progress in treatment so far or, if you really need to share your war story, consider wording it so that it doesn’t cause distress for yourself and others.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please know that help is available. For more information about what treatment options are available for you, please call 800-442-6158 Who Answers? to speak with a caring specialist.
Recovery is a long and tedious process. It takes a lot of willpower and work to be able to shake off your addiction. After going through such a long process of recovery, relapsing is not something you want to experience so you have to go through the entire recovery process again.
If you want avoid relapse, know what people will lead you back to your addiction, know your relapse signs, leave your old habits behind, and believe in yourself to be able to pull through.
Know Your People
A major setback that can cause many addicts to relapse is being around family and friends that fuel their habit. If you stay around people that indulge in your addiction, give you money for your addiction, or attempt to get you to go back to your old addiction, you need to leave them behind.
The US Department of Education conducted an experiment wherein they found 85 percent of adolescents entering addiction treatment in the United States begin regular use of alcohol and other drugs before the age of 15. This means that there are many people out there that can hinder your progress in recovery.
Make sure you stay clear of the people on drugs that would influence you to continue your addiction. You don’t want people in your life that don’t support your recovery. If you stay with them, it is more likely you will relapse.
Know Your Signs
Many addicts have their own personal signs of when they feel the need to relapse. Understand who you are and the things you usually do before you feel the need to partake in your addiction. If you can understand your body and its reactions, it is easier to stop yourself in your tracks before you start snowballing back into your addiction.
Leave Old Habits Behind
If your old hangouts and hobbies include places and things that make it easy to have access to your addiction, you should probably start looking toward finding new hobbies and hangouts.
You don’t want to be around things that make your drug accessible to you. Temptation is a killer for addicts attempting to avoid relapse. Change up the way the old you operated and you are sure to keep your new you free from addiction.
Believe in Yourself
Believing in yourself is important in your journey for relapse prevention. The mind is a powerful thing and staying optimistic and thinking that you won’t go back to your addiction is a great outlook to have that will help increase your willpower.
If you go toward your recovery with a negative attitude it makes it more likely that you will give up or go back to your addiction. Simply thinking that you have what it takes to make it through the trying times of recovery can make it feel easier to fight addiction.
As described by the US Department of Health and Human Services, recovery is a process of making it through stages and that if a person is not aware of their progression during each stage, they will relapse. This is why it is important to believe and pay attention to yourself.
If you are trying to avoid relapsing, avoid people and places that could influence your old addiction. Understand yourself so you know your signs and so you can believe that you really have what it takes to defeat this. If you feel as though you are struggling with your recovery don’t be afraid to call 800-442-6158 Who Answers? today to make sure you stay healthy and happy in your recovery.