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Substance abuse: Everyone is a stake holder


            Reports from Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institute of Health, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and other organizations are in agreement about opioid addiction. It is a public health crisis. It can happen to anyone, any intellectual level, any background. Contributing factors include family background – someone(s) in the family have or are struggling with dependence on substances they abuse, environment, genetics, personality traits and stress.

            Partnership for Drug-Free Kids cites a Health Day report stating that “more children and teens are arriving in emergency departments dependent on opioids. The report further compares the number of ER patients 21 years old and younger being treated between 2008 (32,800) and 2013 (50,000).

            Who is most likely to become addicted to substances? It can – and does – affect anyone. The website explains higher risk is white people, people with high IQs and those self-medicating for bipolar disorder or ADHD. Young people between the ages of 18 and 24 are more likely to abuse drugs, and men more than women. But self-medicating with alcohol or drugs only makes the problems worse.

            Nora Volkow, MD, director of NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) speaking at the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control (2014) advised the ease of availability of drugs was created because of the number prescriptions written and dispensed, social acceptance of using medications for different purposes than intended, and aggressive marketing of pharmaceutical companies.

            So when you read that everyone in a community has a stake in the health and well being of everyone, that means you are a stakeholder.

            The United States has the dubious distinction of being the largest global consumer of these drugs: hydrocodone (Vicodin), 100 percent; oxycodone (Percocet), 81 percent.

            Heroin is cheaper and easier to get and is risky because it is so addictive and high risk for overdose. The user has no control over the purity of the substance they are using. They have no idea what’s in it, like, for instance, fentanyl.

            Heroin abuse is linked to the spread of HIV, hepatitis (especially hepatitis C), sexually transmitted diseases and other blood borne diseases, which occur when sharing needles and risky sexual behaviors.

            Volkow also cited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which reports that naloxone reversed 10,000 overdoses between 1996 and 2010. Naloxone does not treat drug addiction. It treats death and gives a person another chance to get help, get clean and stay clean.

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