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Friday, November 3, 2017

Opioid Commission's Final Report

Treatment is the answer to the opioid addiction question, without it more people will needlessly perish. There are over 2 million people with an opioid use disorder in the U.S., according to available data, but it’s likely a lowball estimate. In reality, experts believe there are far more individuals in the grip of opioid narcotics who have not been accounted, for many reasons. However, the true number of opioid addicts isn’t what’s important; how to provide such people with treatment is the more salient question.

Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) can only do so much in the way of preventing abuse. Addicts who desire drugs will always find a way to acquire what they need, especially if they otherwise risk withdrawal symptoms. What’s more, state PDMPs are not connected nationally, which means that one only needs to cross state lines to acquire their drugs from unfamiliar doctors. Even if there were a national PDMP, a large number of doctors do not utilize the programs despite the epidemic.

Naloxone can, under normal circumstances (sans fentanyl and carfentanil), reverse an overdose if administered in time. Unfortunately, a new study showed that people saved by naloxone were still a high risk of another fatal overdose. The research indicates that about 10 percent of patients treated with naloxone had died within a year, half of those who died did so within one month of their overdose reversal. The reason for these overdose deaths is relatively straightforward; steering victims towards addiction treatment at the time of overdose is not happening enough. More than half of doctors who participated in a poll at the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) said that “detox and rehabilitation facilities were rare or never accessible."

Opioid Commission's Final Report

Last summer, we discussed the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis' preliminary report calling on the President to declare the opioid addiction epidemic a national emergency. The commission released its final report this Wednesday recommending:
  • More Treatment Options
  • Tighter Prescribing Guidelines
  • Additional Drug Courts
The report highlights that only 10.6 percent of people who need treatment actually receive help, Reuters reports. The commission calls for a national media campaign to embolden addicts to seek treatment; encouraging people with use disorders to “stop being afraid or ashamed of seeking help when facing their addiction.”

“This sounds to me like a very progressive and very needed move,” said Professor Kosali Simon, a health economist at Indiana University. 

The report lacked at least one vital aspect, how everything that is needed will be funded, according to the article. Without substantial funding, these recommendations would be “toothless,” says Paul Hanly, a New York lawyer representing local governments suing opioid makers. The opioid epidemic costs billions of dollars each year, and an even greater cost in human life.

Providing adequate treatment for millions of Americans battling the mental health condition known as substance use disorder will have a high price, but it will save countless lives.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

If you are struggling with opioids of any kind, please contact Celebrate Hope at Hope by The Sea. Our professional team can help you break the cycle of the disease and give you the tools for living a life in recovery.

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