Substance abuse is an issue throughout the country. President Donald Trump recently issued a state of emergency for the opioid crisis. When this topic gets the attention of the country’s leader, it is something that has significantly impacted our nation. It has been estimated that more than 59,000 people fell victim to drug addiction in 2016, and those numbers have not improved. This public health crisis has affected Americans in one way or another whether they’ve lost a family member, friend, or have themselves fallen into the cycle of addiction.
No part of society is exempt from this plague as lives that were taken range from young to old, rich and poor. Notably, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died in February 2014 after 20 years of sobriety. More recently, rapper Mac Miller died of a drug overdose.
Addiction is not a rich or poor problem that plagues a certain economic class of people. Addiction has come through like a wrecking ball and taken out chunks of our society at a rate never seen before. There is no place for this in our society, and changes need to be made to ensure the safety of all citizens.
Nowhere has this problem been more prevalent than Florida, and Broward County specifically. The emergence of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl has fueled this unprecedented increase in overdoses and deaths in the county. These synthetic opioids have been found in counterfeit pills and bags of what was assumed to be heroin. Dealers are adding fentanyl to these common street drugs to boost profits. Synthetic fentanyl is created in clandestine labs in Mexico and transported to the United States. The cost of production is significantly lower than pure heroin or prescription drugs.
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Due to the problems Florida faces, the state’s leaders have been looking for solutions to spearhead the root. Former Florida Gov. Rick Scott also declared a state of emergency as a way to help battle the opioid crisis. He has introduced new bills as a way to reduce the number of deaths from overdose. There also has been a rise in the accessibility to accredited treatment centers to get those the help they need, which are all steps in the right direction.
Statistically speaking, overdoses have risen in Broward County. An estimated 10 people a day who lose their lives to addiction in the county. As mentioned above, the driving factor for these catastrophic numbers is the fentanyl that has been leaking across U.S. borders. Drugs have become unpredictable, and when you are desperate to fight off withdrawals, you aren’t concerned about what’s in the drug. A quick, cheap high could mean the difference between life or death.
Prescription drugs like Norcos or OxyContin are more expensive than a bag of heroin. This is a common reason why people switch over to heroin. The only benefit of prescription drugs is that you know what is going to be in the drug. Prescription drugs, as dangerous as they are, at least carry a grade level of purity approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) so that you know what is in the pill as well as the exact dose. Today, underground drug manufacturers have been replicating these pills and cutting them with fentanyl. If you are used to taking a certain amount of Norcos and take that dose of fentanyl, you have a strong probability of overdosing.
Fentanyl accounted for 1,976 deaths in 2016 alone. Opioids are inherently dangerous, but fentanyl can be up to 10,000 times stronger than morphine. Those who are not used to that strength cannot handle the drug. This crisis has overwhelmed our first responders. Police officers, firefighters, and hospitals have been astonished at the sheer volume of overdoses.
This has caused mandatory training for police officers to accurately determine if someone has overdosed and administer the drug called Naloxone (Narcan). Narcan has helped saved thousands of lives all over the country. This miracle drug, however, is just a band-aid to the problem that is being experienced.
It does not cure addiction, nor do those who have their lives saved learn a valuable lesson. There are stories about people who overdose on a regular basis and rely on Narcan to live. What is Florida doing to combat this crisis?
There has been dialogue in the highest offices of the states that are advocating for solutions. Order must be restored in our state and citizens must be saved. With the crisis growing at record numbers, Scott has declared a state of emergency for Florida, which allows the state to get federal funding that gives easier access to treatment for people who are ready to get sober. The cost of treatment is the most common objection to overcome, but easier access allows more options to utilize insurance.
Scott also introduced a bill called HB-21 to lawmakers. Upon completion, the state unanimously approved it as another weapon in the fight against addiction. The sole purpose of this initiative is to tighten the screws on prescriptions. Doctors have been overprescribing for years which has led to a lot of cases where addiction started. A 30-day supply of painkillers would be given for a simple procedure, and HB-21, in short, was established to eliminate that.
The initiative has made it more difficult for doctors to overprescribe medications. Now, prescribing practices must be based on a patient-by-patient basis. After a procedure that a doctor deems narcotic medication necessary, the patient will receive a three- to seven-day supply of the drug. They will return to the doctor’s office after this time frame for an evaluation to determine if they are still in pain.
Doctors also have gone through additional training to recognize the habits of someone who is becoming addicted to pain medications. This has proven to be useful to this point, and doctors have become apprehensive to prescribe too much.
It must be noted that those with long-term illnesses or major trauma are exempt from this bill.
The less popular measure that is being drawn back into existence is to charge drug dealers with murder if their “client” fatally overdoses. This is a law that has been around in Florida for many decades, but the law book was “dusted off” and brought back to fruition by lawmakers. Dealers push poison, and charging them with murder and making them eligible for the death penalty is having mixed effects. On the one hand, someone who has personally lost a child or someone they love to addiction may be an advocate, but on the other hand, someone with no ties could think it’s immoral. The point is to create solutions no matter how extreme they are. An open dialogue leads to results.
Substance abuse treatment is a sequence of therapies treatments that begin at a very intensive level. They gradually decrease throughout the process. Each step plays as important of a role as the last. The longer the client stays in treatment, the more effective it will be. Each stage of the process completed will help aid in long-term sobriety and protect against the risk of relapse.
The first and most difficult part of the process is detox. Detox is the process of eliminating all foreign substances from the body as the transition to sobriety begins. The reason it is so important to complete this stage in a medically supervised detox is that withdrawal symptoms from drugs are uncomfortable, and in certain cases downright dangerous. The withdrawals from drugs like benzodiazepines can be fatal if not taken care of properly. Detox will be the place where you build the foundation of your sobriety.
Detox is a 24-hour a day seven-day-a-week process that takes place at a medical facility where you will be in the presence of health care professionals. They will navigate you through the worst days and help mitigate the risks associated with detoxing. You may be given medications to alleviate the worst symptoms. How long you stay in detox can vary, but on average will be around three-to-seven days. This is all predicated on the severity of the addiction and the drugs consumed.
The following level of care will place you in residential treatment or outpatient treatment. This is all conditionally based. The severity of the addiction will help determine where you’re placed. For some, outpatient treatment will be more useful so they can carry on their careers or education.
Some will require residential treatment to take a break from the outside world for up to 90 days. You will take part in therapies that are designed to help you understand the reasons for your addiction and teach you how to cope with cravings and triggers. These therapy sessions will be customized for your unique needs.
Certain stages of treatment are meant to be challenging. These test you and help you grow as a person. A part of this process that shouldn’t be hard is knowing where to go for treatment. This is an overwhelming time for someone who just admitted they have a substance abuse problem, and we want to make it as easy as we can to help get you into treatment. You need to know what to look for when determining where you’re going to change your life. This could be the biggest decision you ever make. You need to make sure it is the right one.
Professional addiction treatment will not work for everyone. There are combinations the medical staff will determine that make your story unique and successful. There are specific areas to look for when considering treatment, however, and knowing these now will save you time and money later on. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) has created treatment center criteria to guide those in need. SAMHSA suggests to look for this in treatment:
Accredited facilities ensure you receive treatment from as place whose sole purpose is to help you recover from substance abuse as effectively as possible. They have gone through rigorous training to obtain licenses and certifications for this distinction.
Evidence-based therapies are those that have delved deep into research and boast the highest success rates for recovery. Before choosing a facility, make sure it has a track record of success using the most up-to-date and current therapies.
Addiction is widely regarded as a family disease, and treatment facilities that offer family therapies help everyone in the family unit heal. Addiction is selfish and hurts those around us. It is important to find a center that can ease everyone through this transition.
Withdrawal can be the primary reason a user returns to using addictive substances. Facilities that offer medically induced detox will get you over the hump more comfortably.
Completing a treatment program doesn’t equate to sobriety. Addiction is a disease that will be present for your lifetime, but having the support around you to manage it is important. Look for a treatment facility that offers long-term care and support. This could be in the form of 12-step programs or alumni programs.
Addiction is a serious disease that can destroy a person’s life. If you or someone you know is battling drug or alcohol addiction, seek professional treatment immediately. Since hundreds of people die daily from overdose alone, ignoring your addiction and letting it continue is among the most dangerous things you could ever do.
Call Arete Recovery today at 855-781-9939 or contact us online and let us help you in your journey to sobriety. Our medical experts are on standby and are willing to provide the around-the-clock support you need to ensure you can live a life free from the cuffs of addiction.
At Arete Recovery, we have a unique “client-first” approach to treatment, always putting the client’s happiness, comfort, and safety first. By choosing to recover with Arete, the hard part is already done; all you have to do is call or contact us online, and we’ll take it from there.
C. (2014, October 01). Treatments for Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/treatment/substance-use-disorders
CADCA. (2018, October 18). Retrieved from https://www.cadca.org/resources/cdc-report-narcan-kits-save-nearly-27000-lives
Sanchez, R. (2014, February 28). Coroner: Philip Seymour Hoffman died of acute mixed drug intoxication. Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/28/showbiz/philip-seymour-hoffman-autopsy/index.html
Davis, J. H. (2017, October 26). Trump Declares Opioid Crisis a 'Health Emergency' but Requests No Funds. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/26/us/politics/trump-opioid-crisis.html