With nearly 100 deaths a day stemming from opioid abuse, drug overdoses are the leading cause of death to Americans – beating car crashes, gun accidents and HIV infection.
It’s no secret our country is facing one of the most rapidly progressing drug crisis in its history.
This crisis doesn’t just affect those who struggle with addiction, but also their families, loved ones, friends, and communities. Aside from causing death and physical damage, this epidemic is causing an overflow in our hospital and jail systems. It is decreasing public safety in our parks, schools, universities, businesses and streets. It has torn apart families, with a record number of children removed from their homes because of parental substance abuse. And with business struggling to find a workforce that can pass a drug screen, it is also a real threat to the regions’ economic development.
The data shows us that opioid addiction knows no age, race, gender, socioeconomic, or geographic boundaries. There is no “us” or “them,” and no one is free from its impact.
Still, as important as it is to recognize the crisis we are facing, it is equally important for us to recognize that there is hope. In the flurry of news coverage regarding overdose, death and statistics about addiction, messages of recovery are often lost. Fortunately, recovery is possible.
There are people across the nation who are overcoming opioid abuse, and there are hundreds of organizations through which help is available. And there are new treatment tools, including Medication Assisted Treatment, the standard of care for opiate addiction. Recovery Engagement Centers, filled with volunteers and people with lived recovery experience are popping up across the state as beacons of hope, a place for those needing guidance and support. Needle exchange programs are reducing the risk of HIV, hepatitis and other infectious diseases. New technology tools are helping people in recovery stay connected to their goals and readily access recovery supports.
Communities are rising up to change the trajectory. There are new approaches to community policing that focus on connecting people to help. Recovery Works provides treatment for those in jail, or who are returning home after being incarcerated. Lay people are being trained on the use of naloxone, a life-saving drug for those who have overdosed. Partnerships are emerging, as treatment providers work with families, law enforcement and emergency rooms after an overdose to help their loved one get into treatment. Communities are organizing summits to educate about the growing epidemic and solutions at hand.
There is no better time for us to sew a message of hope and recovery.
The opioid crisis affects us all, but with appropriate action, we can curb the rising tide of drug abuse and direct those who are struggling towards the path of recovery.
To do this, we must come together to help those who struggle with addiction find the services and support that they need to succeed. For the public, this means not being afraid to address expected substance abuse in those around us. For our public officials, this means finding pathways to help ensure those in need have access to as many treatment options as possible. For those of us in the treatment community, it means seeking more ways to connect with and to educate people about addition and recovery. For those in recovery, it means sharing your stories and helping to break through the darkness that this epidemic has cast on our nation and instill hope that recovery can happen.
Let’s work together to spread the word that recovery is possible. Let’s celebrate those who are seeking recovery, and let’s offer support, reassurance and solutions. Acknowledging a recovering person’s efforts and validating their commitment provides support and encouragement to continue towards recovery. Recovery is not only possible, recovery is happening.
Council on Substance Abuse is committed to providing the support needed to assist those seeking recovery from substance use issues. To talk to us, please call 334-262-7477.