24/7 Confidential Hotline

Friday, August 17, 2018

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Saves Lives

opioid use disorder
People suffering from an opioid use disorder are mostly aware that the drugs they use carry several risks. While such people may know that recovery is achievable, the vast majority of people living with opioid addiction have not had any therapy. A severe lack of individuals being unwilling or unable to seek treatment needs to change, especially when one considers that fentanyl becomes more ubiquitous with each passing year.

Fentanyl is an extremely potent pain medication. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes the use of fentanyl for treating cancer pain or palliative care. While doctors prescribe the drug off-label quite regularly – for unapproved conditions like back pain – the fentanyl showing up in batches of other narcotics doesn't come from the same place as what you find in hospitals. With relative ease, drug cartels can both acquire the precursors and make the substance. The synthetic opioid – 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin – is then mixed with other drugs to boost potency.

It is highly likely that the majority of Americans who succumb to an overdose involving fentanyl didn’t know that their heroin was mixed with the deadly substance. What’s more, public health officials need to make people who use cocaine and anti-anxiety drugs, like benzodiazepines, aware that fentanyl is combined with those drugs as well. There is little indication that the trend of mixing synthetic opioids with other narcotics is going to wane; which is why it is so critical – perhaps now more than ever – that more is done to encourage addicts of any kind to seek treatment.


Opioid Overdose Deaths In America

If the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has it right, one American dies from an overdose every eight minutes. The agency states that in 2017 more than 72,000 people lost their lives to an overdose, roughly 200 per diem; the death toll is up almost 10 percent from the 12-month period before. While heroin continues to be one of the deadliest drugs abused, the culprit behind rising mortality rate is synthetic opioids like fentanyl, and its analogs, The Washington Post reports. Provisional estimates show that synthetics had a hand in almost 30,000 overdoses last year.

To say that the CDC's report is troubling is probably an understatement. Annual data from one year to the next shows us that fatal overdose rates continue to go in one direction: UP! Increasing access to the life-saving drug naloxone, while helpful, can only do so much; and, in many cases, naloxone is ineffective in reversing fentanyl-related overdoses. Opioid use disorder is a treatable mental health condition, with professional assistance men and women can recover from the disease of addiction. The CDC report shows that the states hardest hit by the epidemic have reduced the number of fatal overdoses, the result of (in part) expanding access to treatment. For instance, Vermont and Massachusetts saw significant reductions in overdoses, according to the article. Still, millions of Americans are continuing down the deadly path of opioid addiction.

More than 2 million Americans are living with opioid use disorder according to a 2016 phone survey; however, Dr. Dan Ciccarone, a professor of family and community medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, tells The New York Times that the number is much higher. Dr. Ciccarone has reason to believe around 4 million Americans are living with opioid addiction.


Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Here at The Haven, we offer people, caught in the vicious cycle of addiction, detox and residential treatment. Located on the Central Coast of California, our center is in the ideal setting to begin the journey of recovery and healing. Please contact us to learn more about our programs.