We’ve seen local headlines that prove opiate addiction is becoming as prevalent as alcohol abuse, could these studies be projecting a much bigger problem on a national bases. Recent Data released by Ohio and Kentucky indicate that the number of those addicted to heroin is very close to overtaking the number of those who suffer from alcoholism. The 2013 public health reports from each of those states show that 33 percent of patients treated for substance abuse received alcohol addiction services, while 32 percent received opiate addiction services. These findings closely mirror what we’ve seen in our own clinic, we have a diverse patient base that consists of both national and international clients. The problem seems to be gaining steam most rapidly in the northeast and east coast regions. In fact, in Vermont, while the number of those seeking treatment for alcoholism has steadily decreased over the previous ten years, those seeking treatment for opiate-based additions has increased almost four fold. The Ohio and Vermont data is especially disturbing because it is the first time since the 1800’s that opiate abuse has reached such a critical mass. During that time, the drug, which was at that time called Laudanum, was mostly used by sweatshop workers who were forced to work 12-hour days.
Opiate Painkiller Addiction Treatment & Medicaid Expansion
In 2013, around 22.7 million Americans older than age 12 needed drug or alcohol treatment, according the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Many physicians, including those here at the Waismann Method, believe that the recent expansion of Medicaid may reveal even more alarming addiction numbers as more people seek treatment for opiate addiction. The Medicaid expansion increased the income cutoff and changed other eligibility criteria to include childless men and women. Education is a large part of preventing opiate painkiller addiction and in treating those already addicted. Physicians must educate patients on the addictive nature of opiate-based painkillers before prescribing them. In addition, treatment must include the psychological and social issues of patients as well as the physical ones. These social and psychological issues are often the ones that lead to opiate addiction later. This is a nationwide heroin epidemic that is threatening to take over more states unless something is done to stop its cause. Of most concern, it is not just street drugs like heroin, that are creating debilitating long-term addictions but also physician-prescribed painkillers as well.