According to a 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 15.3 million individuals of at least 12 years of age misused medically administered drugs in the course of a year. Even more shocking is that an annual survey titled Monitoring the Future released by the White House and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) reports that some of the most powerful pain relievers available, such as opiates, have witnessed exponential increases of filled prescriptions. In the span of a decade between 1997 and 2007, the average use of these substances per person increased by approximately 400 percent. According to these latest statistics, prescription drug use has become one of the most prevalent cases of abuse overall. With numbers of this scale, it is a wonder why this issue has not stirred a national uproar.
Extreme hardship due to this type of maladaptive behavior is also expanding, which has led to media coverage of many personal stories with sad endings. One particular story involves a boy named Michael, who ended up taking his own life due to the trials of abuse. His parents, Avi and Julie Israel established Save the Michaels of the World in tribute to Michael’s not uncommon struggle. As one of the many prescription drug abuse prevention and awareness groups, this growing voice for the countless amount of people suffering is beginning to make large strides in legislation.
It was only a little less than three years ago that Save the Michaels of the World was recognized by congressmen in Washington D.C. to help bring substantial change to a national level. The Israels were able to meet with high-ranking Department of Health and Human Services representatives to discuss strategies for combating the prescription drug abuse epidemic. In addition to many other families with similar cases, the Israel family brought this overwhelming problem to the attention of various members of federal delegation as well as California state representatives. Proposed ideas included the increased awareness of addiction risks for particular prescriptions, continued medical education with a focus on addiction, guidelines to help wean patients off high-risk substances and an online unified registry for filled prescriptions.
This was not the end of congress’ progress in regards to prescription drug policy changes. This past February marked the reintroduction of an effort aimed at breaking harmful habits. The bill, also known as the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), offers a set of encouraging resources that allow various communities to pursue a wide range of evidence-based strategies to battle addiction and support the recovery process. The most impressive element of this renewed initiative is that the bill has bipartisan backing. Democrats, Republicans and over 100 other organizations have pledged their support. Specifically, the act will expand education and other preventative methods, increase the availability of emergency treatments, add resources to mental health treatment in incarceration and much more.
Overall, a lot of progress has been made this year in bringing attention to this issue. One of the latest reports from Washington D.C. states that million dollar proposals are currently in the works at the moment. As a whole, these measures plan to increase the accountability of doctors over their patients by establishing new monitoring procedures in addition to funding the expansion and combination of different therapies.
The Monitoring the Future study also isolated the fact that over 70 percent of those who abused prescription pain relievers obtained them from family or friends. This means that interventions must be carried out on a personal level. If these new legislative actions pass, useful information will be available in schools and for families seeking specific steps to save a life. The more equipped other people are for battling this addiction, the more likely a successful recovery will take place.
Some of these substances are particularly powerful and can easily influence individuals to the point of psychological and physical dependency. Some particular substances, especially opiates, also have a short half-life, meaning that repeated usage may quickly escalate over a short period of time. In cases such as these, treatment for substance abuse and addiction is a vital part of the recovery process that could mean the difference between life and death.
Sovereign Health Group, based in California, is a treatment provider with locations all throughout the state that provide comprehensive programs and services to help individuals who are struggling with mental health disorder, addiction and co-occurring disorders. Substance abuse and addiction are deeply restrictive afflictions that impact all types of demographics. If you or a loved one suffers from a problem of dependency, please message us via live chat or call our 24/7 helpline at (866) 819-0427 to speak to a member of our team.
Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer