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Opiate Addiction: Taking Action as a Community

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Opiate addiction rates have reached epidemic levels as a result of soaring painkiller sales  around the United States in the last decade.  Opiate based painkillers, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, the main ingredients in prescriptions such as OxyContin and Percocet, are popular prescription options for physicians who want to treat a patient’s pain.

Unintended Consequences of OxyContin

Unfortunately the increased number of OxyContin and Percocet prescriptions has led to one unintended consequence- a dramatic rise in opiate addiction rates. According to Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health, prescriptions for opiate-based painkillers, such as OxyContin, dispensed by retail pharmacies rose from 76 million in 1991 to 219 million in 2011.  The statistics, announced at the nation’s first National Prescription Drug Abuse Summit in April 2012, indicate a 200 percent increase.

New Action in Treating Opiate Addiction

More than 700 participants from across the country, experts in opiate addiction treatment, government healthy and drug policy makers, and members of Congress met at the Summit to discuss a holistic approach to the epidemic of prescription drug and opiate addiction.  The Summit represented the first time health, addiction treatment, advocacy, human resources, and law enforcement sat together on a national level to discuss the epidemic.

An Associated Press “AP” analysis of OxyContin and other opiate based prescription drug sales in Florida indicated a geographic spreading of the epidemic.  According to the AP report, in 2000, Florida’s oxycodone sales were centered around West Palm Beach. By 2010, oxycodone was flowing to nearly every part of the state.

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Timed along with the Summit, the Obama Administration unveiled a new strategy to combat opiate addiction and prescription drug abuse that focuses on treatment based response rather than a law enforcement response.

“We are not going to arrest our way out of this problem,” the president said. Guided by an approach that focuses on addiction as a treatable disease, the National Drug Control Policy Office will amend guidelines to focus on treating the cause and the addiction, instead of seeking a resolution in the criminal justice system.

On April 28th, the Drug Enforcement Agency will host a national “give back” day for prescription drugs, in the hopes of helping Americans address opiate addiction. Anonymous and “no questions asked”, police departments across the country will collect old, unused or unwanted prescription drugs, including OxyContin and Percocet.  Statistics show that 70% of prescription drugs are obtained in the home.  Getting the prescription drugs out of the house may be the first step in addressing an addiction problem.

Holistic Treatment for Opiate Addiction

The increased limelight given to opiate addiction across the country and a more holistic approach to the program opens the door for people seeking treatment. Opiate addiction is difficult to overcome, but can be done with the right tools and a supportive environment.  Those suffering from opiate addiction, including specific addictions to OxyContin and Percocet, should seek holistic treatment that focuses on ending the cycle of abuse and treats the individual as a patient rather than a criminal.

Destination Hope is a full service drug, alcohol and dual diagnosis treatment facility in Florida for women with substance abuse issues. If you or a loved one is having problems with drugs or alcohol, please call us today.

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