5 Ways That States Are Combating the Opioid Crisis.
by Matt Boyle
The opioid crisis has left many communities in America devastated. Across demographics, overdose death rates have climbed higher and higher while the entire country struggles to craft a solution. Lawsuits have been filed against pharmaceuticals, policies have been put into effect, and communities have banded together to organize a collective front against the addiction crisis. Here are five states that are making a different on the front lines of the opioid crisis.
In 2018, the state voted unanimously to approve legislation establishing a director of substance abuse, addiction, and related disorders in order to help fight back against the opioid crisis. In four counties within Georgia, overdose rates have leapt in the past several years. So far, $11.7 million in federal grants have been allocated to the state of Georgia to combat the addiction epidemic.
In 2017, Vermont declared the opioid crisis a state of emergency. Today, they’re now considered a national leader in fighting the addiction epidemic. State efforts have included increasing access to Medication Assisted Therapy, plus introducing a hub and spoke model that incorporates multi-disciplinary care to address all aspects of addiction. This means access to more intensive outpatient services and more treatment referrals from emergency rooms. The hub and spoke model has so far served over 8000 people throughout the state of Vermont, and has even eradicated waiting lists for some treatment centers.
According to Washing state attorney general Bob Ferguson, at least 2 people die each day from opioid overdose, and more than $34 billion was spent throughout the state between 2012 and 2016 on fighting the epidemic. Washington has adopted the same hub and spoke model as Vermont, as well as creating limits on how many pills a doctor can prescribe. More and more residents are now gaining access to treatment and therapy options while the state works hard to educate people on the disease of addiction. Washington now has one of the the highest ratios of MAT providers relative to drug fatalities in the country.
The opioid crisis in Oklahoma has been especially devastating. In the last 15 years, deaths from overdose within the state have increased by 91%. To fight against this, the state has created the Commission on Opioid Abuse, a coalition dedicated to analyzing the opioid epidemic and organizing a response. the state has also launched a new medicine disposal initiative. The method of disposal utilizes a special powder that it is mixed with water and allows users to safely dissolve their medication. The brand name, DisposeRx, is going to be carried in all Walmart pharmacies starting in 2018, some 4700 stores nationwide.
A new program, entitled NJ CARES (New Jersey Coordinator for Addiction Response and Enforcement Strategies) was launched to help oversee opioid response teams. These teams are made up of law enforcement, first responders, and licensed clinicians available 24/7. Hospitals throughout the state have also recruited overdose specialists to meet with patients within an hour of being admitted to emergency rooms. This way, they can get the kind of direct support and person to person connection they need to get into treatment. In 2015, Governor Chris Christie signed a bill into law mandating that sober housing be available to students at all state colleges, and so far, more than $100 million has been allocated for treatment.
While the battle is far from over, at least some states are taking steps in the right direction to begin healing communities and preventing more residents from becoming addicted to substances. The most important part is that we are creating change and hope in a brighter future.
About The Author
Matthew Boyle is the Chief Operating Officer of Landmark Recovery, a drug and alcohol rehab center. He has been working in the healthcare space for 7 years with a new emphasis on recovery. Before his ventures into healthcare, Matthew graduated from Duke University in 2011 Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree. After Duke Matthew went on to work for the Boston Consulting Group before he realized his true passion lies within Recovery. His vision is to save a million lives in 100 years with a unique approach to recovery that creates a supportive environment through trust, treatment, and intervention.