Addiction is a nationwide epidemic that needs to be treated. The toll addiction takes on families, communities, even our government is too great to not care about. From fatal overdoses to the cost of healthcare, addiction touches all of us. From the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2018 data showed that a total of 128 people died each day from opioids, including, prescription painkillers, heroin, and fentanyl. That is opioids alone.
With addiction, the price we pay is far too high. The suffering of an addiction reaches much further than the suffering an addict or alcoholic feels daily. It touches the families that have to watch their loved one suffer. It hurts the community when crime and overdose rates rise. For example, when methamphetamine, or meth, hit Oklahoma City they saw overdoses, fatalities, and crime rise exceptionally.
The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics reported that meth had killed 308 Oklahomans in 2018. The data showed that “more people died from meth overdoses in their city than the other top 8 drugs combined, including heroin and fentanyl”. Oklahoma legislators tried to combat the new raging meth problem, but there is no one solution. This is a part of the cost of addiction. It reaches our lawmakers costing taxpayer dollars. It costs communities when they are forced to hire more police and EMTs to help with the consequences of addiction. The biggest cost of addiction is human lives. The people that are dying from addiction aren’t people we don’t know- they are our family members, our friends, our heroes- addiction does not discriminate.
Our first line of defense is prevention. Knowledge is power. We cannot keep turning a blind eye to those in need of help because of the stigma of addiction. Community awareness programs or parents talking with their children are two great ways to be and stay aware. Prevention can have a positive effect.
Rehabilitation centers are incredibly important. Having access to proper care is vital to truly combatting America’s addiction epidemic. Rehabs are places that offer an assortment of treatment options for addicts and alcoholics. The first place to start is detox. Detox is a specialized time where addicts and alcoholics stay under medical attention while the drugs or booze leaves their body. Depending on what substance and how long a patient has been using will dictate how detox will look.
With certain substances sometimes medications will be used for comfort and safety. Withdrawal from drugs and alcohol is painful and with certain substances, like benzodiazepines or alcohol, can be dangerous. Detox is important because avoiding withdrawal is one part of what can keep addicts and alcoholics using. Having medical professionals, counselors, and peers around 24/7 during those first 7-10 days is helpful.
The next step is a residential program or inpatient programs. This gives the addict or alcoholic time for their minds bodies to recalibrate. Residential programs are usually a 30 day program. It involves different types of therapy, individual or group. It also provides a safe place to be during the fragile time being so fresh off of drugs. These types of programs give addicts and alcoholics time to begin to heal with the focus on themselves. There are reasons why someone ends up on drugs and drinking.
The time residential programs offer gives time to begin to understand themselves. Why certain things happened in their lives, why they are where they are now, and helps prepare them for going home to live a healthy lifestyle. Rehab can be extremely helpful for someone that is ready to get clean. It can offer the first step to long-term sobriety. Most insurances cover detoxes and rehabs. They are life saving programs. There will be someone that can help you figure all of that out.
It is highly recommended that the first two steps be detox and a residential program. Outpatient programs are recommended for those leaving a program and those that just cannot take the time needed for a residential program. There are different types of outpatient programs. There are programs that offer medications known as MATs, or medically-assisted treatment.
These programs are good for those that need a little bit more help staying clean. There are medications like Suboxone or Methadone that block the opioid receptors ensuring that if opioids do enter the body they cannot get that high they are seeking. These two medications also help with cravings. There is also Vivitrol. Vivitrol can help with opioids and alcohol consumption. It also blocks any substance from getting to the receptor in the brain. Outpatient programs are less restrictive.
They are programs that work around the schedule of the patient and they go home every night. Outpatient programs focus on the recovering addict or alcoholic. They offer a level of accountability that some people need. Going to talk to a therapist or counselor a few days a week or weekly can help with learning how to cope with life and getting back into society. There are 12 Step programs. These are made for addicts and alcoholics for addicts and alcoholics.
A huge part of all of these types of outpatient programs is the ability to be around peers. There is the ability to make friends, find a sponsor, or just find someone that understands what going through addiction is really like. Finding someone that can relate can help with long-term sobriety.
The whole point of all of these programs is to help the suffering addict and alcoholic. Then the recovering can help others in need. We need detoxes, rehabs, and outpatient programs. We need them because people are unnecessarily dying and we have found programs that help combat that. These programs save lives.