Opioid Epidemic: Are We in Need of a New Primary Healthcare?
By Space Coast Daily // May 5, 2019
We must wonder why substance use disorders as part of the primary health care come as a surprisingly new idea. At least in the United States where alcohol and drug abuse have been traditionally treated as a separate problem that calls for specialist services only.
But it is already alarmingly necessary to incorporate treatment of this chronic illness into mainstream healthcare. There are many ailments connected to this which may all be a part of a larger issue that can be addressed with the proper understanding of addiction.
There is still no systematic primary care provided for this issue. Fortunately, now more than ever, researchers know how drugs affect the brain and have discovered effective treatments that can help people recover lead productive lives.
The Opioid Epidemic
The opioid epidemic or opioid crisis refers to an escalated use of opioid drugs that began in the United States in the late 90s and continued increasing rapidly throughout the new century, culminating in 2017 when 49,000 opioid overdose deaths have been recorded in the US.
In addition to this information, we should look at the reports of stress rates during the period from 2012 to 2017. An increase in stress levels has been detected in 2017. The opioid crisis is still an on-going issue and death rates haven’t dropped. Could there be a correlation between an increase in stress and addiction problems?
Psychology of Addiction
It is clear today that addiction happens as a protective response to life challenges or emotional events people can’t find a way to deal with. It is a mechanism created in order to avoid pain, stress and general discomfort.
Most kids who experiment with drugs and alcohol don’t become addicted, and on the other hand, many children become addicted to such common activities as eating, Internet, TV, games, and even medication prescribed for other problems.
This only shows what behavioral scientists have been arguing, and that is that addiction is not a matter of stimulus but the individual’s need for such a distraction. They conclude that there is thus a number of similarities in diagnostic symptoms between drug addiction and behavioral addiction.
It is obvious then that life challenges posed by radical changes in society are making more and more individuals feeling powerless and helpless in the face of such chaotic stress, which reflects in headline warnings about various addictions corrupting the society.
So why is addiction treatment not systematically incorporated into primary healthcare?
California has considered this problem seriously, setting an overarching goal to implement into mainstream healthcare a wholesome and systematic treatment for a range of addiction disorders.
“California is moving fast to prevent addiction and overdose deaths and to treat the people harmed by the epidemic. So many smart and creative people are coming together in ways I have never seen before,” says Dr. Kelly Pfeifer, director of the California Health Care Foundation, launcher of opioid initiative and partnerships with medical and behavioral health providers.
However, there are institutional and provider barriers to this, even though effective and brief treatments are possible and available. There are still difficulties finding health professionals with sufficiently broad training and also practical issues concerning credentialing, scheduling, reimbursement, confidentiality, and interdisciplinary communication and collaboration.
In the meantime, there are still many California rehab centers out there you can and should reach out to.
This may truly bring changes in the society as substance abuse is just a symptom of unhealed problems individuals are facing within society. Addiction as a way of avoiding emotional pain shows how much in pain must our society be if overdose rates are skyrocketing.
Also, addiction has many faces and cultivating good healthcare will not just prevent death cases, but educate people on ways of dealing with life’s challenges, making them stronger, more responsible, productive, and happier.
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