That’s how many people we lost from drug overdoses in 2017.
That’s 72,000 phone calls breaking the news to torn apart families. 72,000 funerals that were unplanned or unexpected. And if those people have two living parents, thats 144,000 sets of parents who stood at the front of a church, temple or establishment looking through tear-filled and blurred eyes at a casket or an urn trying to hold it together.
And if those people made an impact on the lives of at least 20 people, that’s 1,440,000 friends, spouses, children, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and neighbors who had to dress in too much black on day where they shouldn’t have had too.
That’s more people that occupy the state of Rhode Island, and the numbers don’t count deaths related to alcohol or complications from drug use.
Addiction statistics are on the rise. Heroin and fentanyl have stood in the public eye and alcohol addiction is widespread. Now, it’s time to for recovery to make a household name for itself. In response, large groups of angry family members and grieving loved ones have sprung up in towns, cities, and states.
And they’ve said enough is enough.
We’ve Reached a Tipping Point
This past year we reached a tipping point where our culture has said that the measures we have in place, the lives that we’ve lost, and the access we have to treatment is no longer acceptable. In 2018 there were more marches against big pharma and the opioid crisis, and more legislature passed implementing measures on opioids and more access to treatment. While cancer awareness is more prominent today than ever, overdose awareness and recovery advocacy is becoming widespread, and more acceptable in today’s culture.
With that, recovery in today’s world has become much more than a word – it has become an action. A study in 2012 by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services found that 10 percent of all American adults aged 18 and older considered themselves to be in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse problems.
We can only guess that number has doubled since.
2018 was a fantastic year for recovery, however the past 365 days were a mere catalyst to springboard the recovery movement for the upcoming year. Here are a couple of things that happened in 2018 that will collectively work together to build a bigger picture for the movement in 2019.
In June, the House of Representatives passed the most expansive legislation to date addressing the opioid crisis; approving a bipartisan package combining 58 bills to combat the epidemic. Titled the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT), it built onto other efforts by Congress in recent years to combat the epidemic.
In September, the Senate passed another bill aiming to prevent illicit fentanyl trafficking, accounting for drug diversion in opioid manufacturing quotas – also aiming to improve access to addiction treatment via telemedicine.
And in October, the President signed the “Support for Patients and Communities Act,” which consisted of boosting addiction treatment, and tackling law enforcement efforts against illicit drugs to mitigate the overprescription of opioids. However, it was exactly a year earlier in 2017 that the White House declared the Opioid Crisis as a national emergency. We can only assume that 2019 will be the year we see results taken from this long-awaited action.
On a local level, many states took measures from limiting to the number of opioid pills prescribed at a time to opening up medication disposal sites. Check out each state, here.
MAT (Medication-Assisted Treatment)
Addition to legislation, in early August, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a shift in the way it evaluates drugs to treat opioid addiction. This concept has now become widespread in treatment facilities and agencies across the United States using evidenced-based treatments. Rather than examining whether a treatment reduces opioid use, the FDA considers factors whether certain drugs could reduce overdose rates or transmission of infectious diseases. Coupled with psychological counseling, MAT has been more widely acknowledged and accepted to be one of the standards of care in treating opioid addiction in 2018.
Today, treatment centers are prominent and more accessible than ever. In the United States alone, there are more than 14,500 specialized drug and alcohol treatment facilities and that number appears to be growing. Thanks to legislation, a large portion of these facilities are being funded by local, State, and Federal governments.
In 2018, stays at drug and alcohol treatment facilities became less taboo due to their prominence. These facilities have helped thousands this year gain their life back. Many of them typically have aftercare programs to ensure one’s road to recovery after treatment is a success.
n 2018, more people came forth about addiction, recovery, and the possibility of both. From recovery podcasts, to sober coffee shops, to websites and social media pages, to annual rallies and marches in metropolitan cities, to non-profit organizations. These advocacy groups and communities raising awareness for addiction and recovery are trail-blazers upon a new movement that will transition from a sub-culture to a culture in 2019 and make recovery a household name.
Check out some organizations, here:
In 2018, addiction and recovery were common headlines in the news. From the tragic deaths of rapper Mac Miller and actor Verne Troyer to the terrifying overdose of singer Demi Lovato, addiction and the opioid epidemic stood in the limelight last year. However, while addiction was common, recovery was also common. We learned of Dax Shepard obtaining 14 years of recovery and Charlie Sheen obtaining one year.
With that, the opioid epidemic is strong, however with most of these factors coming into play as widespread entities in 2018, the headlines for 2019 are bound to be more positive ones.
There’s no doubt that 2018 was a fascinating and exciting year for the recovery movement that is bound to catapult what’s to come. However, with the recent legislation, more access to treatment facilities, medication assisted treatment, recovery advocacy, and mainstream media all at play, awareness to create upon what we already have will arise. Those in multiple facets of recovery will join together and collectively work to build a culture where recovery is a common lifestyle, social movement, and everyday occurrence.