Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Treating Addiction Requires Collaboration ; No Silver Bullet for Treating Nations Drug Problem

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Treating Addiction Requires Collaboration ; No Silver Bullet for Treating Nations Drug Problem

Article excerpt

In our state, its not hard to meet someone whose world has been touched by addiction a blue collar laborer who suffers from chronic pain; a teacher whose student was placed in foster care; or a grandparent caring for a child whose parents are addicts. West Virginia bears the unfortunate mantle of being at the epicenter of the nationwide opioid addiction epidemic.

A high unemployment rate, a disproportionate share of manual labor jobs with high injury rates in addition to aggressive marketing by pharmaceutical companies all have contributed to our states vulnerability.

We have paid dearly. West Virginia claims 32 overdose deaths per 100,000 people, nearly triple the national average in 2015.

The national numbers are equally troubling. The landmark report recently issued by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy provides a snapshot of the disparity between addiction and the options for treatment.

One in seven people in the U.S. is expected to develop a substance use disorder at some point, yet only one in 10 will receive treatment. This is the first report of its kind that addresses substance use disorders and the wider range of health problems associated with them.

Most importantly, the surgeon general added his voice to those calling for a public-health-based approach to our addiction problem, one that is less stigmatizing for those affected by addiction and more medically based.

The report recommends highly effective, community-based prevention programs should be widely implemented, and underscores full integration of the continuum of services for substance use disorders with the rest of health care could significantly improve the quality, effectiveness and safety of all health care.

Those of us who are part of the West Virginia Health Center community could not agree more that a community-based approach is our best hope.

Opioid addiction showed up on our doorstep long before it was declared a national epidemic. We understood early on that the ravages of addiction require a comprehensive and integrated approach. …

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