If you think the Opioid/Opiate Epidemic hasn’t affected you, think again.

ripples

Anyone who is stupid enough to put a needle in their vein deserves what they get is a sentiment we are reading/hearing all too often lately. Many people think addiction is not their problem if it hasn’t touched their families or loved ones. Whether you realize it or not, we are all caught in the ripple of this epidemic – so it is your problem.

A few examples:

  • Obviously it is touching the lives of anyone who has a loved one with Substance Use Disorder. This equates to time lost at work, or certainly distracted employees.  If the person is in active addiction and is employed, you can bet they are not working to capacity.
  • Our court system is jammed with people suffering SUD. The dollars cost on policing, jailing, probation oversight, court costs…………the list could go on…. is enourmous.
  • Child Protective Services cannot keep up with the amount of children in the system due to this epidemic. These children are growing up in chaos.
  • Police, firefighters, paramedics, and hospitals are all overwhelmed with overdoses and other health issues related to constant drug use.
  • Unscrupulous treatment facilities are falsifying claims and overcharging insurance companies ($1500 for a urine test?!?!?) which are paying out for the wrong kind of treatment while those in accredited hospital facilities where the billing is true and accurate cannot get coverage. All of our insurance rates increase.

Our tax dollars are spent putting out the fires caused by this epidemic. We need to put our dollars to use with a multi-pronged and organized response. The ground work has been laid by many who fought for CARA to be passed.

The below is taken from the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America web site.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) establishes a comprehensive, coordinated, balanced strategy through enhanced grant programs that would expand prevention and education efforts while also promoting treatment and recovery.

On July 22, 2016, President Obama signed into law the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (P.L. 114-198). This is the first major federal addiction legislation in 40 years, and the most comprehensive effort undertaken to address the opioid epidemic, encompassing all six pillars necessary for such a coordinated response – prevention, treatment, recovery, law enforcement, criminal justice reform, and overdose reversal. While it authorizes over $181 million each year in new funding to fight the opioid epidemic, monies must be appropriated every year, through the regular appropriations process, in order for it to be distributed in accordance with the law. 

  • Expand prevention and educational efforts—particularly aimed at teens, parents and other caretakers, and aging populations—to prevent the abuse of methamphetamine, opioids and heroin, and to promote treatment and recovery.
  • Expand the availability of naloxone to law enforcement agencies and other first-responders to help in the reversal of overdoses to save lives.
  • Expand resources to identify and treat incarcerated individuals suffering from addiction disorders promptly by collaborating with criminal justice stakeholders and by providing evidence-based treatment.
  • Expand disposal sites for unwanted prescription medications to keep them out of the hands of our children and adolescents.
  • Launch an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention program to expand best practices throughout the country.
  • Launch a medication assisted treatment and intervention demonstration program.
  • Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to help states monitor and track prescription drug diversion and to help at-risk individuals access services.

Obama’s statement after signing the bill:

Today, I signed S.524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 into law.  This legislation includes some modest steps to address the opioid epidemic.   Given the scope of this crisis, some action is better than none.  

However, I am deeply disappointed that Republicans failed to provide any real resources for those seeking addiction treatment to get the care that they need.  In fact, they blocked efforts by Democrats to include $920 million in treatment funding. 

The rest of his statement can be found at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/07/22/statement-president-comprehensive-addiction-and-recovery-act-2016 )

 CARA needs to be fully funded.

In 2009 the H1N1 virus, or Swine Flu made headlines as the pandemic swept the globe. The federal government released 6.15 billion dollars of emergency funds to help combat this health emergency. The death toll from H1N1 that year was 12,469 people. It could have been worse, but the government’s quick response saved many lives.

That same year we lost 37,004 people to drug poisoning- more than triple the amount of deaths from H1N1.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that the dollar response to a pandemic is uncalled for. What I am saying is that this Opioid/Opiate Epidemic is in need of a radical and immediate response similar to that of a pandemic. Although not a communicable disease, this epidemic shows no signs of slowing down despite advocacy, awareness and education. The most immediate need is to make safe medical treatment available to those who seek it in medical facilities overseen by doctors educated in addiction medicine and mental health. Allowing any entity to open their doors and call themselves a treatment center should NOT be allowed. What other diseases are allowed to be treated like this in the U.S.? We need a federal standard of care for Substance Use Disorder and all mental health conditions. In order to combat this scourge that is stealing close to 4,000 lives a month in this country we need our government to step in and fund a response to this public health crisis.

As of the latest CDC report there have been a total of  4,091 cases of Zika virus in the US; 3,951 of those were travel-associated and the 139 cases in Florida being local, mosquito-borne infections.Today in response to the Zika virus a hard-won 1 billion dollars in funds has been made available to combat and contain this newly emerging health threat.

The most recent numbers released are for the year 2014,  when we lost 47,055 lives to drug poisoning. Although the numbers aren’t in yet, it is assumed 2016 will be the most deadly year yet despite the rise in the use of Narcan by first responders. Without Narcan the amount of lives lost would be staggering.

To put these numbers in perspective, the peak in AIDS deaths was in 1995 with a total of 50,877 people lost. The 2017 budget calls for 27.5 billion dollars in AIDS funding

Funding for AIDS treatment was not immediate. Like today, stigma played a large part in the lack of a federal response. With funding, research helped gain a better understanding of the virus and its mechanisms. With yearly funding research into treatments for the virus gain ground and more lives are saved.

The Opioid/Opiate epidemic is costing America billions of dollars already. Let’s stop reacting to the problem and instead meet it head on.

Congress is returning from recess on November 14th and will begin finalizing funding for 2017. We need to push for CARA funding now -this is our chance!

This is YOUR chance to make a difference.

Please add your name to the Facing Addiction letter to Congress asking for adequate funding for CARA. It only takes a minute! https://www.facingaddiction.org/fund-cara-2016

After you add your name to the letter PLEASE come back here and click this link https://votervoice.net/APA/Campaigns/48260/Respond where Addiction Policy Forum has made it extremely easy to email your congressmen and senators.

Both of the above actions are quick and easy! Please add your voice to help get CARA funded. This work needed to be done yesterday. Every day we wait is costing lives.

Also, please share the above sites and/or this post. We need as many voices as we can get by November 14!

The only way to Stop the Silence is to Keep Shouting.

Thank you,

Trish


5 thoughts on “If you think the Opioid/Opiate Epidemic hasn’t affected you, think again.

  1. Hi Honey, I put this on my Facebook and of course signed The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. I know you are very busy but I hope you read this. Luv you Mommie. Temple Sinai has a Veteran’s Group that meets once amonth on a Sun. a.m. I know they are older but I think Spencer would enjoy talking with these men. I remember how well he spoke in our group.

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  2. I love this post. Narcan saved my life and luckily i received medical treatment with no discrimination. They just wanted to make sure i was fine. Thank god for them. Narcan needs to be available to all EMTs and Police. It saves lives. Yes, junkies are human too and just because we deal with our pain by using an illegal substance doesnt mean we deserve to die because we mis-judged our dose. If you were to meet me you probably would never guess i need opiates of some kind in my system to be normal. Today it is suboxone and thank god for that. Im not using. We also need to stop throwing non-violent people with addictions in jail. Drugs are available in jail. Jail has to make the mental pain worse and it is no place to attempt recovery. Just my thoughts

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you Trish for all your posts and updates yes this has affected my family also and I get very irritated with people who think those with an addiction deserve it my son started out with painkillers for severe back problem he had was very quickly escalated to heroin there are many people in our area professionals all walks of life that have been affected it is through your posts and articles that I have found strength and information to keep moving forward I fully support your cause and will continue to send letters to politicians to help with this epidemic thank you Trish for all that you do

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    1. I always ask people a simple question when they dismiss the pervasiveness of this problem. ‘When you were younger, did you have to pee in a cup before you could be hired for a job?’ We accept drug testing as a matter of course today. It wasn’t always this way. Random drug testing at companies is the norm today.
      One drug, one company, has changed the entire fabric of our society.
      Thank for your support.
      We are most definitely stronger together.
      💜Keep Shouting

      Like

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