Opioid and Heroin Awareness Week
President Obama declared this week, the third week in September, as national opioid and heroin awareness week in reaction to the widespread increase in overdoses experienced in communities across the nation. The goal of Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness week, is to draw attention to the severity of the crisis currently facing the country and ask individuals to recognize that it is not okay for Seventy eight Americans to die each day from opioid overdose. Throughout the week, the Obama administration and the Department of Justice worked together to set up programs across the nation that addressed the need for prevention and treatment in order to fight the addiction epidemic.
The administration called on members of communities who lost loved ones to opioid overdose and asked them to share their stories in hopes of preventing another individual from becoming addicted to either of these substances. The declaration of awareness week is also a sign of commitment from the White House and a signal to American’s that the Department of Justice is dedicated to holding accountable individuals responsible for the drug epidemic as well as committed to providing treatment for those currently grappling with addiction.
“During Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week, we pause to remember all those we have lost to opioid use disorder, we stand with the courageous individuals in recovery, and we recognize the importance of raising awareness of this epidemic.”
–Proclamation by President Obama, September 16, 2016
According to an article from the Occupational Health & Safety “The DOJ reported more than 70 U.S. attorneys have committed to doing more than 160 events around the country, and more than 90 events are planned at Bureau of Prison facilities, during the week.”
Why is Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week Important?
Leading up to and during awareness week, officials from the DOJ, federal agencies, local organizations, and lawmakers are taking a number of actions to combat addiction and provide resources to communities that are struggling with the effects of addiction. The important components of the scheduled programs and events include:
- – Expanding substance use disorder treatment in the TRICARE system to include coverage for outpatient intensive programs and medication assisted treatment programs for opioid addiction.
- – Establishing targeted methods for combating the flow of fentanyl and other synthetic drugs from entering the country.
- – Increasing the limit of patients allowed for practitioners from 100 to 275 for buprenorphine for treating opioid addiction.
- – Increasing access to available healthcare, substance use disorder treatment, and educational programs in communities.
Heroin addiction is a complex medical problem that requires immediate treatment and ongoing support, from the initial stage of medical detox through to the later stages of rehabilitation and aftercare support. Heroin addiction exacts a high toll on everyone, for individual drug users, their families, and wider society. If you or anyone you know is living with heroin addiction, it’s important to find professional treatment as soon as you can.
What is Heroin?
Heroin is a potent opioid analgesic and widely-abused CNS depressant. While heroin is used medically in some parts of Europe, the vast majority of heroin is produced and sold for the black market. Heroin addiction and overdose are serious problems that can result from heroin abuse, with early intervention important before things get out of control. Heroin goes by many names when sold on the black market, including H, smack, junk, horse, and black tar. Heroin is typically injected intravenously, with some users choosing to smoke the drug instead. Like other opioids, heroin produces an intense form of euphoria when consumed, with tolerance developing quickly over time and users needing more of the drug to achieve the same effects. Extensive abuse often leads to addiction, including the existence of physical-somatic withdrawal symptoms when drug use is discontinued.
Why is Heroin so Addictive?
Heroin is an opioid substance that is closely related to the naturally occurring morphine molecule. This drug was originally synthesized in 1874 by C. R. Alder Wright by adding two acetyl groups to morphine, with heroin between two and four times stronger than morphine with a much faster onset of action. The combination of potency, fast onset, and intravenous administration make heroin highly addictive, with some people also believing that heroin produces more euphoria than other opioids due to the presence of 6-monoacetylmorphine. Whatever the reasons, breaking the bonds of heroin addiction is a long and difficult process, with access to professional drug treatment services often required. Treatment for heroin addiction involves a number of integrated programs, including crisis intervention, medically assisted detox, rehabilitation, and aftercare support programs.
Rehabilitation and aftercare
While detox plays an important role in treating heroin addiction, it does little to address the psychological factors that underpin addiction. Residential and out-patient rehab programs are always advised after detox, with typical treatment modalities including cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational incentives, motivational interviewing, family therapy, and relapse prevention. Aftercare support programs also play an important role, including SMART Recovery, 12-step support groups, and sober living communities. If you or anyone you know is living with heroin addiction, it’s important to reach out to a professional treatment program as soon as possible.