Bev’s Corner – Worth Noting: Not every state is experiencing more opioid overdose deaths
“The opioid epidemic is far from contained — the national death toll from drug overdoses climbed to a record high last year. But some states and cities are bucking the trend and showing how governments can get a grip on the worst drug crisis in American history.
“In 2017, overdose deaths in the United States jumped 10 percent, to about 72,000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week. The new data show that people are dying from opioids that are more potent and more dangerous than were available in years past. The C.D.C. also found that many people who overdose are simultaneously using multiple drugs like heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamines and benzodiazepine, an anti-anxiety medicine, and that the crisis has spread across the country, from rural and suburban areas to cities.
“Given all this grim news, the areas where overdose deaths are decreasing— Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming, per the C.D.C. — stand out. Some of these states have taken a more thoughtful approach to helping people who suffer from what experts call opioid use disorder and have worked to prevent more people from becoming addicted to prescription pain pills. Along with some cities, like San Francisco, these states have been at the forefront of increasing access to the anti-overdose medicine naloxone and to anti-addiction medicines like buprenorphine and methadone, which experts say can help people who are dependent on opioids live relatively normal lives.
“The successes on these fronts can be attributed in part to efforts to boost rates of insured individuals — people who are dependent on drugs often struggle financially and cannot afford treatment without health coverage. Massachusetts and Vermont, where overdose deaths are falling, have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and have helped people sign up for private insurance. In 2016, just 2.5 percent of people in Massachusetts were uninsured and only 3.7 percent lacked health insurance in Vermont, compared with 8.6 percent for the country as a whole.
“It’s no surprise, then, that most people with opioid use disorder in those states — more than 60 percent of them — received medication-assisted treatment, according to a Blue Cross Blue Shield Association report. By comparison, less than 30 percent of people with the disorder received treatment in Florida, Georgia and Texas, which have not expanded Medicaid and where the uninsured rate was more than 12 percent.” (NYT 8-24-18)
The Times then goes on to ask the Trump Administration to do everything and anything they can to insure the uninsured, since that seems to be a major factor standing between life and death for people struggling with opioid use disorder.
It is inspiring to see that in states where opioid deaths are decreasing, there is a correlation to better insurance, and to access to Naloxone and Medication Assisted Treatment. That indicates that there IS something our government can do to decrease the scourge of opioid overdoses. Now it is up to all of us to hold their feet to the fire to make sure our families get the help they need to stay alive and hopefully recover.
With places like the Chris Atwood Foundation in VA and the Overdose Lifeline in Indiana, our loved ones can get the Naloxone they need to stay alive even in states where insurance has not caught up yet. (If you have not taken Ginny Atwood’s Naloxone training on the Daily BALM, click here to do so.) Once they do stay alive, we BALMers have the skills to potentially make a difference in the quality of our and their aliveness.
We know, that WE CAN CONTRIBUTE TO OUR LOVED ONE’S RECOVERY. (the 4th BALM C) by practicing our BALM Principles and Steps moment by moment, along with taking emergency action when needed.
Have a great holiday weekend!
Be A Loving Mirror!
Beverly A. Buncher, MA, PCC, CBC, CTPC
Family Recovery Life Coach/CEO
Family Recovery Resources, LLC
786 859 4050