In the last year, we have all watched the government take a new shape, for better or worse. The new guard has appointed individuals into positions relevant to the field of addiction medicine and treatment. You might be aware that as of September we have a new Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams.
Those of you who weren’t aware of former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy’s replacement, we will take a moment to share with you his credentials. The 20th Surgeon General of the United States is an anesthesiologist and a vice admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, according to STAT News. He attended medical school at Indiana University School of Medicine and earned a Masters in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Adams has the kind of resume that you’d expect from someone serving in the position of Surgeon General. However, it turns out that he also has some personal experiences that can help him address the American opioid addiction epidemic. Adams has a younger brother named Phillip, whose substance use and abuse have severely impacted the entire family. Dr. Adam’s brother is currently serving time in prison just down the road from his office; it’s fair to say that he thinks of the plight of addiction quite often.
Family Addiction Might Change the Discussion
The Surgeon General does not make policy, but they do have a platform and voice that calls for deference. He believes that getting law enforcement and addiction medicine experts to work together on this crisis is critical, the article reports. With that in mind, he shared his thoughts at a recent National Academy of Medicine panel discussion about the opioid epidemic. When a judge opined that it was strange for him to share a stage health experts, Dr. Adams shared:
“The No. 1 touch point for people with addiction is not a physician … it isn’t a medical touch point. It is the law enforcement community,” he said. “This room should be half full from the law enforcement community if we really want to tackle this issue.”
The new Surgeon General seems to think a balance can be struck between law enforcement and public health services to find a solution to the American addiction crisis. He realizes that the criminal justice system has not helped his brother Philip break the cycle of addiction, but believes that at times people must be held accountable for their actions.
“We can’t ignore the fact that there are crimes being committed,” said Dr. Adams. “I’m not saying my brother or anyone else should be absolved of all the crimes and the real harm they’ve done to people. I’m saying the way that you prevent that from continuing to occur is by making sure those folks have access to treatment, so that when they do get out, they don’t go down the same pathway.”
Committing petty crimes is resorted to when addicts can’t support their disease any other way. Once in the system, perpetual cycles of recidivism are commonplace; giving more people access to addiction treatment services would make recidivism be less a reality.
If you are one of the millions of Americans actively caught in the grips of addiction, please contact Synergy Group Services. We can help you break the cycle of self-defeating behavior and lead a productive life in recovery.
The opioid addiction epidemic has left no corner of America untouched. Arguably, the eastern seaboard has been affected most by opioid use disorder, from Florida to Maine and practically every state in between. Prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetic opiates continue to steal lives on daily basis. Experts predict that more overdose deaths will occur this year than last. With each year that passes, overdose death records get broken.
The New Hampshire Film Festival held last weekend used the opportunity to open discourse about opioid addiction. In a state that has seen devastating overdose death rates, focusing on opioid use disorder makes sense. To give you an idea of how severe the problem is in NH, the state’s chief medical examiner threw in the towel (so to speak), The New York Times reports. In the wake of almost 500 overdose deaths across the state last year, Dr. Thomas A. Andrew announced his resignation. He will enroll in seminary school and plans to minister to young people about addiction.
“After seeing thousands of sudden, unexpected or violent deaths,” Dr. Andrew said, “I have found it impossible not to ponder the spiritual dimension of these events for both the deceased and especially those left behind.”
Films About Addiction and Recovery
Taking advantage of the public attention to film during festival season is vital to this most important cause. At the NH Film Festival, two films were shown in a double feature this year, focused on the opioid addiction epidemic. “The Heroin Effect,” a documentary following the lives of over a dozen recovering addicts in New Hampshire.
“The Heroin Effect follows the stories of those affected by opiate addiction, shows what successful recovery can look like and highlights advocates for a health system that does not discriminate against this treatable disease. The film shows the impact of individual connections with our neighbors who are fighting addiction, and by presenting various informed perspectives, including intimate video journal footage of one man’s thoughts on his own drug use, helps us better understand their humanity.”
“Andy Wooff’s Birthday,” a short documentary about an addict on his birthday. Filmmaker William Bentley’ short film shadows a British heroin user’s attempt to score the drug on his 51st birthday.
“This is an area where it means most because the epidemic is here,” Bentley told WMUR. “The tri-state area, the New England area are really suffering from it, and it means a lot to have people come up to you and talk to you about the film afterwards.”
Opioid Addiction Treatment
There are many ways to address this insidious epidemic; cinema is essential because it gets people talking. Discussing the nature of addiction, treatment, and recovery is vital in encouraging people to seek help.
If you are struggling with opioid addiction, treatment is your best hope for achieving the goal of recovery. Please contact Synergy Group Services today. Whether you live in New Hampshire, Florida, or anywhere else—recovery is your only hope.
Last December we covered a serious topic relevant to South Florida regarding opioid abuse, specifically heroin. Like most states which made valiant efforts to curb prescription opioid consumption, an unintended consequence was an exponential increase in a demand for heroin. A drug that can be bought easily on the streets, inexpensively. What’s more, the drug is often far more potent than most prescription opioids and is often laced (unbeknownst to the user) with fentanyl—a drug that is 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. As a result of greater heroin use, Florida had more overdose deaths in 2015 than any year in the previous decade.
Human Cost of Heroin Use
When discussing the American opioid addiction epidemic with regards to costs, the conversation is usually directed towards the death toll associated with using drugs in that family of narcotics. In 2015, there were 332 fatal drug overdoses in Palm Beach County, Florida alone, The Palm Beach Post reports. A figure that rose in 2016, significantly.
While opioids like heroin are highly addictive and can easily result in premature deaths, such drugs can wreak havoc on those who do not have a choice—specifically babies. Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) has been on the rise in the wake of more expectant mothers using heroin. NAS occurs when a fetus is exposed to opioids during the course of the pregnancy. When the baby is born, his or her supply to the drug is cut off resulting in acute opioid withdrawal. The condition requires close medical supervision for several weeks. And there is no way of knowing the impact that drugs will have on the baby later in life.
Providing the necessary resources for deterring opioid use, expanding access to addiction treatment and reversing opioid overdoses with the drug naloxone is not an easy task. And such resources cost state taxpayers a lot money. But they are necessary for saving lives. The human costs of the opioid addiction epidemic are, without question, the most important when shaping policy. However, it is important that we try and get a grasp on the financial burden that the epidemic has brought upon the state.
A Price Tag On Opioid Abuse
The Palm Beach Post tasked themselves with figuring out that total cost of the heroin epidemic in Florida. The researchers came to their findings by reviewing 58 million Florida Agency for Health Care Administration hospital diagnostic and billing records covering patients from all 67 counties. They compared the overall costs of the epidemic in the first nine months of 2010, a year when heroin deaths in Florida were approaching a 10-year low, to the first nine months of 2015. You can see a breakdown of the Post’s findings below:
- Florida hospitals charged $460.6 million related to the heroin epidemic for the first nine months of 2010, compared to $1.1 billion in 2015.
- $5.7 billion: All Florida hospital charges tied to the heroin epidemic between 2010 and late 2015.
- $2.1 billion: Amount of all Florida hospital charges tied to the heroin epidemic in which Medicaid was the primary payer.
- $967 million: Florida hospital charges for babies born addicted between 2010 and 2015.
- $826 million: Amount where Florida Medicaid was the primary payer for babies born addicted between 2010 and 2015.
- One every two days: Average number of Florida patients treated for heroin-only overdoses in 2011.
- One every 90 minutes: Average number of Florida patients treated for heroin-only overdoses July through September 2015.
Opioid Addiction Treatment
If you are battling with opioid addiction, whether it be prescription painkillers or heroin, please contact Synergy Group Services. Our Palm Beach County Florida opiate addiction rehab program combines traditional counseling with Alternative Medicine to achieve a synergistic outcome with unparalleled success. With each day that passes where opioid addiction is left untreated, the risks become exponentially greater.