Compared to 2013, the number of opioid-related deaths rose to almost twice as much last year. However, good things have also been happening, such as the amounts of opioids that have been prescribed has gone down and addiction treatment options have risen.
According to Mercy Behavioral Health Care’s Vice President Dr. Robert Roose, federal and state government officials have been offering and providing tremendous support in order to address the opioid epidemic. Between 2015 and 2016, it apparently took just 15 months to bring down number of opiate prescriptions that had been administered during that period by 32%. Consequently, this resulted in a 31% decrease in the total number of opioid units circulating in local communities.
Dr. Robert claims that there is plenty of more, ongoing work that still needs to be carried out and according to him, the addiction crisis is far from over, which is indeed the case. On March 22nd, Dr. Robert was present at Westfield State University as a keynote speaker during a meet-and-greet fair that was held there.
The fair featured over 30 different social services providers, such as Addiction Campus, the American Addiction Treatment Center, and The Salvation Army. Information. Those in attendance were educated about various recovery pathways that addicts may embark upon. Even a Narcan demonstration was conducted at the event, which included a discussion of the effectiveness of Narcan as a solution for preventing overdose-related deaths.
Dr. Robert Roose happens to be a member of the Opioid Addiction Working Group, which is being operated by Charlie Barker, the current Governor of Massachusetts. Dr. Robert has participated in a number of listening sessions held by the group. Out of thousands of testimonials that they have received, they have managed to narrow down 65 recommendations that suggest effective and useful methods on how to effectively and rapidly prevent and intervene in addiction cases, as well as treat addicts and help them recover.
Of those 65 recommendations, 90% of them have already been implemented in the past 2 years. According to Dr. Robert, it was elected officials, hospitals, schools and treatment providers that largely contributed towards making this possible. Consequently, this marked the addition of 500 new inpatient treatment beds in the region. This also made it possible to set up three new public awareness campaigns. Even efficient systems have been successfully set up in order to collect data and track opioids that are prescribed.
Dr. Robert claims that there are still more treatment beds that need to be added and that the supply is still not enough to meet the significantly greater demand. The audience that was attending the meet-and-greet fair was also greatly concerned about the kind of post-therapy support that would be available to addicts in order to help in taking up a sober lifestyle and cope with emotional health problems, which are actually the root cause of the region’s substance abuse crisis.
The panelists at the event agreed with the fact that the work that needed to be done was far from over, and added that a lot more could be achieved in the future if everyone joined hands and worked together.