There is a major crisis affecting the health and welfare of many Americans today, and this threat to the state of America’s health isn’t a virus. The threat is the epidemic of heroin use that is affecting people at every level of society in the United States. The current heroin epidemic is larger and more broad-ranging than any addiction crisis we’ve ever seen before, which is why the crisis had gotten the attention of the government and our medical treatment system.
Government Concern and Awareness
In October of 2017, President Trump declared the heroin epidemic (which is also referred to as the “opioid epidemic,” as heroin is an opioid drug) a “national health emergency,” and called for the US to liberate our communities from the “scourge” of addiction.
There’s no doubt that the crisis has reached epidemic proportions. The epidemic began spiraling out of control after prescription opioid painkillers, like Vicodin and Oxycontin, began to be much more widely prescribed for those in chronic pain. The easy availability of the drugs led to their resale as a street drug, when it was discovered that the time-release tablets could be ground up and then snorted or injected for a major opioid “high.” These kinds of drugs bring a great feeling of euphoria when taken recreationally, as they act on the pleasure centers of the brain and bring on a surge of good feeling. The problem is that these drugs can be highly addictive, and many addicts soon began getting heroin as a cheaper alternative to prescription drugs, as it can bring on the same opioid high.
The problem with the regular use of heroin or other forms of opioids, according to leading heroin treatment in Orange County experts, is the level of physical addiction which develops alongside the psychological dependence. Once the great surge of euphoria wears off, the user can feel a terrible low that can only be resolved by taking another hit of the drug. Very quickly, a user can get into a vicious cycle of abuse, as they continue to use to maintain a feeling of pleasure, and ward off the depressed lows that come on after the high. All of these activities are very wearing on the body and the central nervous system, which goes into overdrive with these repeated highs and low, as the addict’s body becomes more tolerant of the drug, and more and more is needed to feel good again.
More Treatment Needed
As concern widens over the levels of this epidemic, more heroin treatment centers are opening nationwide. What’s important, however, is to know that a patient is being treated responsibly by healthcare professionals during rehab. The detox process involves withdrawal from the medication, and withdrawal can bring on dangerous symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, intense depression, and seizures. Careful monitoring of patients is very important, in order to avoid life-threatening situations during withdrawal.
The acknowledgment of the crisis by the leaders of the US government is important, as the crisis is one that affects everyone in our society. People are dying from this addiction, and the hope is that with more government support, we will see more support for those addicted who are in need of help with detox and rehab. Let’s hope that the help needed is coming before more lives are lost to this terrible disease.
The Role of Technology in Drug Addiction
Technology is nearly touching every aspect of our lives, and drug rehab is no exception. It is thus considered a wise idea to utilize technology for the recovery of drug addiction. As David Lee Scher mentions, the use of computer technology in substance abuse prevention and treatment has been described around a decade ago.
The FDA even just recently approved the first prescription digital therapeutic for the treatment of patients with substance use disorder (SUD). The app, named reSET®, has been proven to increase abstinence from a patient’s substances of abuse during treatment, and when used as part of an outpatient treatment program, increases patient retention in treatment.
There are other efforts on using technology in this space. To name a few, MAP’s Behavioral Health Population Management Platform is used to improve clinical and financial outcomes for behavioral health including SUD and addiction treatment. Avella’s Pain and Addiction Management Guide app on the other hand allows healthcare professionals (HCP) easy access to medication details like indications and usage, dosage and administration, etc.