As the opioid crisis seems to gain steam throughout the United States and Florida, there have been no signs indicating that it will slow down. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that opioid overdoses are claiming more than 100 American lives a day. To put this in perspective, on average, 43 people die every day from car accidents, and the leading cause of death in the United States, heart disease, claims 193 people per day. Florida alone is losing 15 people a day to drug overdoses.
When everyday numbers you’re familiar with start stacking up and are compared to drug overdose deaths on a daily basis, it puts into question what can be done. This is not just a problem anymore of some people using drugs, and a select few are dying from them; we are experiencing a huge portion of our population that is being affected by this crisis.
In Florida alone, in 2016, there were 2,798 reported opioid-related overdose deaths. This comes at a rate of 14.4 deaths per 100,000 persons, which is an increase from 13.3 per 100 persons one year prior. In 2016, there were 1,566 synthetic opioid-related deaths in comparison to a mere 200 in 2013. The state as a whole is home to 18.8 million people, and to see the steady increase in deaths attributed to substance abuse is a startling realization about the status of American culture.
The sheer numbers alone are overwhelming first responders like police officers, firefighters, hospitals, and even morgues. With that, there has been a surge in the production and purchase of a counteracting drug named naloxone, also known by its trade name Narcan, as it’s more commonly referred to, and unfortunately, a premium is being paid. It’s nothing new as it has been around since the 1960s, but as of recent times due to this epidemic, its prevalence has become more than necessary.
Narcan is the professed miracle drug that is giving those knocking on death’s door another chance at life. It works by kicking opioid molecules off receptors in the brain, reviving overdose victims, and allowing life to return to them. First responders like police officers have received additional training to learn how to administer Narcan if they are first on the scene–it saves time, and it ultimately is the difference between life and death.
Statistics paint a picture, and while the situation may seem bleak, there are initiatives in place to help combat this deadly disease. The promotion of positive change was felt when Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill to help put a cap on the opioid crisis. While no one solution will completely fix this, it will require a series of ideas that complement one another before real change is seen. These bills are a step in the right direction and will hopefully provide some relief while other ideas being thrown around.
The bill recently introduced was to, in part, prevent individuals from getting hooked on prescription painkillers before making the dark turn to street drugs like heroin or fentanyl. Lawmakers unanimously passed bill HB 21, and what it does is limits the prescriptions doctors write for treatment of acute pain.
This was done by limiting prescriptions of narcotics like OxyContin to only three-day doses and could prescribe up to seven days if deemed medically necessary. Those who suffer from major trauma or terminal cancer would be exempt from these terms.
All of this has in, turn, caused doctors to be more aware of the possibility of overprescribing opioids. Doctors that are allowed to prescribe narcotics are only able to after taking specific training courses and entering a database native to Florida that screens potential candidates for prescriptions to ensure they’re not doctor shopping.
Successful substance abuse treatment takes a multifaceted approach to substance abuse, and it addresses and treats each and all aspects of one’s addiction, including the psychological and physical issues.
The first step of treatment is medical detoxification. This process involves removing all traces of drugs and alcohol from a user’s system in a carefully supervised process of withdrawal. Typically, this is done on an inpatient basis, but it all depends on the severity of the addiction. Detox can be done on an outpatient basis depending on the drugs consumed or the seriousness of the person’s use.
During a client’s treatment, they will begin at the highest and most intensive portion whether it be on-site or outpatient. During the progression and treatment(s) administered by their therapy team, they will gradually be taken into a less intensive phase of the process. This will be predicated on their current needs, but this is typically the order in which they will go in:
With those many levels comes different types of therapies aimed at educating and being able to identify triggers that will haunt them to use when they return to daily life. The client will be provided with support, guidance, education, and the necessary skills to manage their addictions. A list of these therapies include:
While searching for the perfect facility shouldn’t be stressful, it must be noted that there are specific criteria to consider before making a choice. Remember, this is a choice that is going to alter the outcome of you or a loved one’s future, and it is of utmost importance to choose the right facility that meets high standards.
A piece of advice to keep in mind is that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. To find the best option for you or a loved one, there will be certain facilities that meet the specific needs more than others, but they must all meet very specific criteria.
The helpful tool to rely on while evaluating facilities is the treatment center criteria set in place by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA). Their treatment center criteria go as follows:
Checking a facility’s credentials helps ensure that the facility you choose has the required certifications and licenses only earned through strict standards of operation.
Attending a treatment center with cutting-edge addiction treatment and methods to treat the disease is important. A client should attend only a place with proven track records and effectiveness backed by addiction research.
Research has proven that having the support of family and loved ones increased overall chances of success. While not all centers offer family-based therapies, due to backed up statistics of proven effectiveness, this is an area to delve into. Remember, addiction is a family disease, and not just the user is in need of therapy.
Medication-assisted treatment is a must in a treatment program. Substances such as opioids and benzodiazepines require attention to detail during because of their severe withdrawal effects, and having a medically induced detox increases chances of prolonged success. Those who attempt to go cold turkey have a higher rate of failure than those who go through medical detox followed by treatment.
Not all facilities offer long-term treatment plans such as an alumni program. It is important to remember that the management of an addiction is a lifelong task, and lifelong support is crucial in long-term success. There are more success stories relating directly to post support programs.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from substance abuse and is ready to take first steps toward recovery and a better, sober tomorrow, The Palm Beach Institute can help. We offer medical detox treatment with a seamless transition into ongoing care through to our post-treatment alumni program.
A. (2014, June 20). Behavioral Health Treatments and Services. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/treatment
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, February 28). Florida Opioid Summary. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-summaries-by-state/florida-opioid-summary
Opioid Overdose. (2017, August 30). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/prescribing.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/overdose.html