Fighting Back Against the Heroin Epidemic

The phrase “opioid epidemic” is one that has been popping up more frequently across the news over the past few years as efforts increase to prevent drug abuse and treat those with substance use disorders. Many people are aware of prescription opioid drug abuse problems, but may not realize that heroin is an opioid as well. It can be stronger than prescription drugs and accessed more easily and for less. Though not everyone who experiences prescription drug addiction turns to heroin, there are many people who do.

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, more than 28,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2014, and more than 10,500 died from heroin overdoses. This devastating issue affects the lives of millions of people, those actively using heroin, but also their friends, family and colleagues. However, despite these statistics, there is treatment available that can save lives. This includes not only fast-acting overdose reversal drugs such as naloxone, but medication-assisted treatment and evidence-based treatment for addiction recovery.

Increasing Funding to Support Medication-Assisted Treatment

President Obama has made the fight against addiction a top priority throughout his two terms in office. He has recently proposed more than $1 billion in increased funding to provide support to prevention and treatment efforts. A large portion of this money – $920 million to be exact – will go toward expanding access to medication-assisted treatment. States can use this funding to increase the number of people they are able to treat as well as make this treatment more affordable.

Treatment for substance use disorders is now required under all Health Insurance Marketplace plans as an essential health benefit. However, addiction treatment can still be costly and becomes a barrier to some people getting the help they need. The additional funding provided to states based on the severity of the opioid epidemic in their state and their efforts to combat it, could allow more people to get help at an affordable cost, encouraging them to enter treatment.

Another $50 million would go to support more facilities in offering medication-assisted treatment and other substance use disorder services. Not all areas of the country have adequate access to these life-saving treatment options, but with more funding, the number of facilities and the services they provide could expand. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services is looking to double the patient limit for doctors who are certified to prescribe buprenorphine to 200. This would allow physicians to support an increase in medication-assisted treatment and help more people overcome addiction.

Finally, the last $30 million would go toward increasing research into the effectiveness of medication-assisted treatment programs. By studying what aspects of programs are most – and least – effective, rehab facilities can make adjustments to their services and treatments modalities.

Treating Heroin Addiction

Heroin is a highly addictive opioid, and over the past 10 years, the number of people between the ages of 18 and 25 using heroin has more than doubled. Other demographics have seen a spike in use as well. Fortunately, there are rehab centers like Northbound that focus on providing high quality, integrated, evidence-based care for clients struggling with addiction. Heroin addiction is no exception.

Northbound recognizes the challenges of withdrawal and effective recovery. In turn, each client works with our medical team through medication management. Medications such opiate agonists and opiate antagonists help curb cravings, and provide support for clients through the detox process. These medications can support recovery efforts by helping to transition clients off heroin in a safer, more effective way and reducing risk of relapse.

However, medication alone is not the answer. While medication management can be essential, it should be used in conjunction with therapy and other treatment approaches. These medications can physically help clients overcome addiction, but it is still imperative to address the psychological impact and underlying issues. Through evidence-based therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), motivational interviewing, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and trauma-informed care, the team at Northbound addresses the multifaceted impact of addiction.

Therapists are well-versed in creating a personalized approach to treatment for each client that aligns with their individual needs and goals. The detoxification process is conducted with round-the-clock monitoring to keep clients as safe and comfortable as possible as their body rids itself of the heroin and any other addictive substances. This is when medication management may begin as well to support recovery efforts.

Northbound has been treating heroin addiction for decades through a comprehensive approach. Throughout the full continuum of care, clients engage in an in-vivo model of recovery that allows them to experience the challenges of real life in a safe, supportive environment. This is one more way that the facility reduces risk of relapse. Medication management and diverse therapies are provided in an environment where clients are exposed to real-life challenges and responsibilities. They develop strategies for managing their recovery while overcoming obstacles in a healthier way.

Battling the Heroin Epidemic

Increased funding, medication-assisted treatment, improved access to treatment, overdose reversal drugs, and increased education are all steps in the right direction toward combatting the opioid and heroin epidemic. However, these efforts require everyone to work together in order to make a difference. If you or someone you love has developed a dependency or addiction to heroin, prescription opioids, or other drugs, make the choice to seek treatment today. Northbound can help you to get on the road to long-term recovery by providing the fully integrated approach to treatment that you need. Our highly trained therapists and staff work with you and your family on education, communication, recovery, relapse prevention planning, and more. Admitting that you are struggling with heroin addiction can be difficult, but know that there is help and hope waiting for you at Northbound.

Admitting that you have a heroin addiction can be difficult, but effective treatment options are available and recovery is possible. Contact Northbound today to find out more about our heroin addiction treatment programs.

Article Reviewed by Paul Alexander

Paul AlexanderPaul Alexander is the founder and CEO of Northbound Treatment. He received his Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist training at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, and was awarded Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2002. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law and Society, Summa Cum Laude, from University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. He believes wholeheartedly in transformational leadership, organizational health and effective, fully integrated substance use disorder treatment.

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