There are many obstacles to getting sober living treatment for the men and women addicted to heroin and painkillers. For instance, a recent study revealed that the stigma of an addiction carries more weight than the stigma of mental illness. It appears that many people believe that an addiction is an indication of a personal flaw. This is one barrier that frequently stands in the way of seeking sober help.
Another obstacle is the fear of legal consequences, such as criminal charges and other forms of legal punishment that may come with admitting to the illegal use of heroin and painkillers.
Because of these obstacles and more, there are a large number of men and women who desperately need sober help but avoid seeking treatment. And for this reason, they end up in dangerous situations such as overdosing and losing their lives.
In fact, in the last two years, the number of overdoses from opiate addiction, including heroin and painkillers, have dramatically increased. The number of accidental opioid-involved overdose deaths in 2011 was nearly triple the number of deaths in 2000, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
However, the state of California is not only helping to remove the stigma of addiction, they are also providing easy access to the life saving medication Naloxone. On September 15, Governor Brown signed a law which will allow men and women to walk into a pharmacy without a prescription, ask for the lifesaving medicine Naloxone, get educated about its use, and purchase it. Naloxone has been used as an emergency treatment drug on someone who is in the middle of a heroin overdose. This medicine temporarily blocks the opiate effects, allowing a person to breathe again long enough for help to arrive.
Recent news articles about the law are pointing to the fact that California is significantly supporting people who are at risk of an opiate overdose and suggesting that the best sober living opportunities exist in California. In fact, the new law directly addresses a need that researchers have recently discovered. A study found that there is a strong need for more education among adults who are abusing painkillers and/or heroin.
The research on the need for education was prompted by the growing abuse and addiction of opiates and trying to find a way to facilitate sober living. Surveys assessed an individual’s knowledge on what might induce an overdose experience as well as the likelihood of drug overdose. Surveys were in-depth and semi-structured interviews and explored a user’s knowledge of opioid safety practices and overdose prevention services available to them. The researchers also measured participants’ knowledge of Naloxone, a specific opioid receptor antagonist used to reverse an opioid overdose.
The study revealed that most participants were not aware of overdose dangers and how to respond to a potential overdose. Many participants were not aware of the use of naloxone as a means for prevention nor how to access the preventative drug. This is precisely why the California law is so significant. It can save lives and perhaps even facilitate sober living through accessibility to a life saving drug and through education on how to use it.
The California law can potentially save many lives by providing those who might be at risk of an overdose with the chance to have an educated discussion about Naloxone. Furthermore, additional research by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has documented over 10,000 overdose reversals by laypeople who were provided Naloxone and taught how and when to use it.
California has about 5,000 pharmacies, which can provide Naloxone to its tens of thousands of residents. Other states have joined California in making this treatment drug available, including New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington, New York, and Vermont. Although Naloxone is being provided in the community pharmacies of these states as well, the best sober living exists in the state of California.
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