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NOPE Task Force – Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education

News Highlights

New Reality in Drugs

New Reality in Drugs

A new federal report finds that 1 in 7 in U.S. will face substance addiction. One solution to the drug crisis: parents need to talk their children about addiction – today.

We’ve been down this terrible road before.

The nation’s drug abuse and overdose rates would skyrocket. Heavy media coverage and policy changes would be given to the issue. Eventually, the numbers would drop and the public’s attention would turn to other concerns.

But this time, it’s different. A new opioid epidemic is raging across the nation. Many are dying and suffering from overdoses from heroin, a lethal synthetic heroin called fentanyl, or a similar powerful painkiller.

The new reality is seen in this haunting federal statistic: 1 in 7 in U.S. will face substance addiction.

Right now, an American dies every 19 minutes from opioid or heroin overdose alone, according to a new report called Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health.

And the economic impact of drug and alcohol misuse and addiction amounts to $442 billion each year -- topping diabetes at $245 billion, the report indicated.

Unfortunately, only 10% of those addicted receive treatment, the study said.

“At a time when we are resource constrained already, we cannot afford, for humanitarian reasons or financial reasons, to not address addiction in America,” said Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general, to USA TODAY.

He noted: Every $1 invested in treatment options for substance use disorders saves $4 in health care costs and $7 in criminal justice costs. His report advocates for a paradigm shift on addiction – by removing the stigma from addiction, our nation will create more patients and less prisoners.

“We have to recognize (addiction) isn't evidence of a character flaw or a moral failing,” Murthy said to the newspaper. “It’s a chronic disease of the brain that deserves the same compassion that any other chronic illness does, like diabetes or heart disease.”

Nearly 21 million Americans struggle with substance addictions, the report said. That’s more than the number of people who have all cancers combined.

And yet, since only one in 10 people with substance addictions receive treatment, that means there are significant holes in America’s healthcare system. High costs, a lack of screening for addictions, and a fragmentation of healthcare services worsens the problem, USA Today reports. Expansion of healthcare coverage will be critical in addressing addiction, the newspaper reported.

Murthy said: “Solving this problem is not going to take place if we just pass a few laws or if public health experts just start a few more programs. It’s actually going to take all of us coming together to do our part.”

That means parents need to talk to their children about addiction – today.

People who start drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to become addicted later in life than those who start at 20 or later, according to the report. Murthy stressed in the USA Today article that schools need to implement prevention programs and doctors need to receive training on how to screen, diagnose and treat substance use disorders.

Furthermore, the federal report stresses that successful treatment of addiction requires more than a stint with a treatment program. Professional counseling and supportive relationships at home both play key parts.

“I’ve just understood that addiction really touches everyone’s life,” the surgeon general said. “It’s a disease that doesn’t discriminate, and it’s one that’s taking an extraordinary toll on our communities across the country.”

NOPE Task Force agrees.

We have long stressed the importance of opening the doors to recovery by eliminating the prejudice that has followed addiction -- a disease that shows no prejudice to any walk of life or background. We discuss this during our school and community presentations, as well as during our NOPE National Candlelight Vigils.

NOPE encourages parents to get more involved in drug prevention. Do it today. Now is the time.