In yet another headline regarding our current opioid crisis, fentanyl is fast becoming the main culprit in drug overdose deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdoses killed more than 70,000 Americans in 2017. And these deaths, which are higher than those caused from HIV, car crashes or gun violence, correspond strongly with the use of synthetic opioids. According to the data, between 2013 and 2016, overdose deaths involving fentanyl increased about 113 percent per year.
“We have a heroin and synthetic opioid epidemic that is out of control and needs to be addressed,” Dr. Dan Ciccarone, a professor of family and community medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, told The New York Times.
Talking About the Solution, Not the Problem
Certainly, it’s important to understand the scope of our current opioid crisis, but what really needs to be addressed is what’s being done to make opioids less accessible and treatment more accessible. Why is it seemingly easier for Americans to get prescription opioids, heroin or fentanyl than it is to get help?
Sadly, just 10 percent of Americans with a substance use disorder seek specialty treatment, according to a 2016 report by the surgeon general. This is partly due to severe shortages in the supply of care and lack of affordable treatment options, which can lead to people waiting weeks or even months to get help.
“ … That individual, if they’re unable to get treatment that day at the time that they’re requesting, may have no other choice but to go out and use drugs [to avoid withdrawal] and maybe overdose and die,” Leana Wen, the health commissioner of Baltimore, told Vox.com.
In an effort to make addiction treatment more accessible, we accept all commercial insurance and are in-network with Blue Cross Blue Shield as well as Presbyterian Insurance of New Mexico. We will gladly work with your insurance company to help you determine if you have out-of-network benefits applicable to addiction treatment. We know it’s not easy, but a good first step is calling us to discuss your situation or the situation of a loved one.
Understanding the Root Causes of Addiction
Another part of the problem is that more needs to be done to address the root causes of addiction, or what drives people to use these substances in the first place. Longtime addiction journalist and author Maia Szalavitz often cites three major contributors to addiction: other mental health problems, past trauma and existential and economic despair.
Many people who are struggling with a substance use disorder are also living with a mental illness, which can interfere with many areas of life, including social and work functioning. This can also create a vicious cycle of self-medicating with alcohol or drugs to mask symptoms. People may also have a latent potential to develop a mental health problem, whether it’s genetic or environmental, and when they abuse drugs or alcohol this propensity is triggered and rises to the surface.
Substance abuse counselors have also known for years that there is a link between trauma and drug or alcohol addiction. Unresolved trauma can cause us to try to escape the pain with drugs, alcohol, sex, relationships, gambling or any other addictive behavior.
At Vista Taos, we help our patients to unravel the underlying cause of their addiction. We help clients identify the trauma or mental illness and move past the pain into the light of recovery. And it’s up to experts in the medical field to do the same. In fact, Wen said she envisions emergency room services not just for physical health but also for mental health, including addiction.
Proud to Be Part of the Solution
At Vista Taos, we strive to be part of the solution and to help individuals find hope and help when life has spun out of control. We do our best to help our clients understand that dealing with past trauma or mental illness is just as important for treatment and relapse prevention as detoxification from the drugs or alcohol. To learn more about our caring staff and affordable personalized care, call today: 575-587-3011.