Phoenix Behavioral Raising Awareness on Substance Abuse During August “Overdose Awareness” Month
By Dr. Dawn Parks
Phoenix Behavioral Health is a new private practice located at 31 Pine Street, Suite 207, Norfolk MA. Our licensed therapists provide mental health counseling to individuals, couples, and families. Our treatment approaches are based on both traditional and holistic interventions and we specialize in working with trauma, addictions, anxiety, and depression. In addition, our certified coaches provide support, motivation and goal setting in areas such as fitness, education, career guidance, and general life skills.
August is Overdose Awareness Month, so with this in mind, we will discuss opioids as they are by far the most commonly used drugs linked to overdose deaths. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reports, North America continues to experience the highest drug-related mortality rate in the world, accounting for one in four drug-related deaths globally. In April 2021, the Center for Disease Control estimated that the number of people in the USA who had died from overdose in the 12-month period to the end of September 2020 was 90,237. Of these deaths, more than 75 were percent attributed to opioids.
Opioids include natural forms derived from the Opium poppy (Heroin, Morphine, and Codeine) and synthetic forms (i.e. Fentanyl); opiates refer only to the natural forms. Both forms of these substances act on the body’s nerve receptors to relieve pain. What can begin as occasional experimentation, easy access to painkillers, or prescribed used of painkillers after medical care, can easily result in increased use leading to addiction. Addiction is defined as the compulsive and repeated use of increasing amounts of drugs with the appearance of tolerance and withdrawal symptoms when drug use ceases.
Addiction is complicated and requires treatment that addresses both mental health needs and substance abuse issues. It is important to find an individual who is trained in both mental health and addiction treatment (dual diagnosis) as addiction can be either the result of self treating mental health issues or the cause of mental health issues. It is also important to seek medical care during the process of recovery. There are medication assisted treatments that are available for individuals with an opioid use disorder: Methadone, Buprenorphine, and Naltrexone, which can be very helpful in the recovery process, but they remain highly underutilized. The use of Narcan as an emergency response to overdose situations where there is compromised breathing and unresponsiveness is very effective in reversing overdose effects in conjunction with calling 911 emergency response team.
For further information on taking the first step towards recovery or if someone you love is dealing with substance abuse, please contact Phoenix Behavioral Health at (508) 623-3931 or email us at [email protected]