The people affected by the opioid crisis are not what someone might consider the “dregs of society,” but rather coworkers, housewives, teen athletes with a knee injury or successful business people.
Of the 20.5 million Americans 12 or older that had a substance use disorder in 2015, 2 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 591,000 had a substance use disorder involving heroin, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine.
So many people don’t seek treatment because of shame and fear. We should teach that once an addiction kicks in, and the addict’s brain has begun to undergo change due to the addiction, choice is no longer a compelling factor.
Once a person is addicted, medically-assisted treatment in conjunction with behavioral interventions is an effective way to treat those with substance use disorder.
Jumping from doctor to doctor is an easy way to support a drug habit, but medically-assisted treatment (MAT) is an alternative that is helping combat addiction.
Board Certified Psychiatrist, Lantie Jorandby, MD, Amen Clinics, DC, has seen “egregious over-prescribing in the primary care setting in the VA system.”
Despite the effectiveness of MAT, there should be clear guidelines at the medical/administrative levels for opioid painkiller addiction treatment, Jorandby says.
Carolyn Castro-Donlan, Ph.D. who has been working with addicts for more than 30 years, collaborates with various treatment centers on MAT. The problem being sustained due to lack of regulations regarding prescription monitoring across state lines, she says.
What may have started as a choice – seeking wholeness in the wrong places – becomes a compulsion and a physical craving.
Reverend Dr. Wesley Shortridge, whose church in Bealeton, VA welcomes addicts, says they are not stupid or weak but often highly intelligent.
There are things we can do through regulations, making opioids less available and more difficult to overprescribe, but as Rev. Shortridge pointed out recently, “making them illegal really never stops the problem.”
Mindfulness principles like meditation and gratitude have been shown through multiple studies to actually change the brain. Instead of looking outside of ourselves for ways to escape from our problems and stressors, we build resilience from inside.
When we begin to establish these practices, we get in touch with our true identity, one of love and joy, creativity and peace. Then, we can begin to seek healthy alternatives.
Marianne Clyde is an expert in mental health in the workplace. Speaking to businesses and associations about empowerment, team building and relationship networking, she is a licensed marriage and family therapist, in practice for over 27 years, energizing speaker and dauntless world traveler. She lived in Japan for over 8 years and has spent time in at least 20 developing countries, teaching about recovery from trauma, personal empowerment and interpersonal relationships.