This past year has been a complex one when it comes to drug addiction in America. On the one hand, the overdose rates in 2016 are poised to continue to climb from the already staggering numbers produced in 2015, but on the other hand, a number of important legislative and political strides have been made in order to help deal with the full-fledged drug epidemic we have.
To a certain extent, this duality makes sense because many times, we are unable to properly deal with a social issue until it reaches a tipping point and it appears that in 2016 we reached that point. We reached the point of no return, where we could no longer turn a blind eye to the tens of thousands of people who were needlessly dying every year from addiction and we could no longer skirt the issue of our failed national drug policy. It finally became totally apparent that incarcerating millions of people for nonviolent drug offenses wasn’t working and we began to understand on a deeper level the effects that Oxycontin have had on our society.
2016 opened up as a continuation of 2015. By the end of last year, we had already started to see an increase in drug overdoses and this was mainly due to the overseas fentanyl that was making its way onto American shores. Street level dealers mixed this fentanyl, which was produced mainly in Chinese factories, with heroin in order to improve profitability and potency. People who were used to doing a certain amount of heroin were not used to the increased strength that the fentanyl offered and so a rash of overdoses followed in its wake.
Hoping to reduce the overdose rates in 2016 and seeing that the trend of deaths was getting worse, President Obama met with rapper Macklemore, a recovering opiate addict himself, in May of this year in order to address the opioid problem in the country. The two discussed how as a country, we needed to change the dialogue that we have about addiction in this country and come to understand that addiction affects people from all walks of life. It is not just a problem for other people, people that you do not know, but it is a problem that hits just about every American family. They also set forth a plan going forward into the year in order to move the political agenda away from incarceration and towards education and rehabilitation.
President Obama’s address was just the first step in his strategic political plan in order to curb opioid overdose rates in 2016 and beyond, and this was followed up with the passing of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. This bipartisan bill allocated further funding for education and preventative programs for substance abuse and for the first time it offered medication-assisted treatment for people in prison. As great of a step as the bill was, it left a lot to be desired and some derided it for its stance on abstinence only programs. The CARA Bill essentially did not offer any funding for abstinence-only programs and focused almost entirely on medication-assisted programs that used Suboxone or other opioid craving reducing medications.
Almost immediately after the passing of the CARA bill, the country saw a new wave of opioid-related overdoses as an extremely powerful opioid, Carfentanil, started to make headlines across North America. There were a number of shipments seized in Canada and a string of overdoses related to the drug in Ohio and other states. The drug is more than 10,000 times more potent than heroin and even a pin-sized dose can kill a human being. Although, since the drug is so powerful and lethal to humans, it does not appear to have caught on like using fentanyl has, and hopefully it stays this way, otherwise the overdose rates in 2016 would have been astronomically higher.
Heading into the fall, we saw opioid overdose rates trending at the high levels they were at earlier in the year, to the point where one South Florida County reported that they were responding to an overdose once every 2 hours. Many first responders throughout the country reported this same thing and in return, Narcan, the drug used to counteract an opioid overdose, became a household name. There were news reports on Narcan being allowed in High Schools and legislation designed to lessen restrictions on the drug so that more people could have access to it and more people could administer it.
As terrible as all this is, the silver lining of it all is that the media continued to report on the problem. They didn’t get sidetracked or lose interest as they have done in the past, but rather it remained in the public spotlight. Politicians and advocates seemed driven to do something in order to help the problem and as the year came to a close, another bill was signed into law, the 21st Century Cures Act, which will give billions of dollars to substance abuse prevention and enforce mental health parity laws already in effect.
It will be interesting to see where 2017, and the Trump Administration, take the problem with addiction in this country, but hopefully some of the ground work that was laid this past year will be expanded on and given time and effort we can truly bring to an end, the opioid epidemic in this country.
Finding Treatment For Your Addiction or Alcoholism
Coming to terms with your addiction can be a difficult task. It is hard to admit that you are powerless over your ability to stop using and asking for help can be even more difficult. At Evolutions Treatment Center we understand this and many of our trained staff members have been exactly where you are right now. So if you believe you have a problem with drugs or alcohol and want to seek help, then call Evolutions Treatment Center today at 1-800-795-8527. We can help you find the support you need in order to finally overcome your addiction and get you on the path to recovery. We are standing by to help, so call today.