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Earlier this month there was news that over 90 people overdosed on synthetic marijuana laced with the powerful opioid fentanyl at a park in New Haven, Conn. Thankfully, no one died of an overdose that day due to the quick response from emergency personnel. Such stories remind us that people across the country are struggling with addiction to illicit substances and opioid-based pain medications.
One hundred fifteen Americans die every day from opioid overdose. Whether a person deliberately misuses a prescription opioid or uses an illicit drug such as heroin, these deaths are all preventable. It’s up to us—emergency medical personnel, healthcare professionals, and community members who witness and respond to overdoses—to learn what we can do to prevent opioid misuse.
Since 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued more than $1 billion in grants to support access to opioid-related treatment, prevention and recovery. We have also published resources to support prevention and treatment providers.
HHS released the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Action Plan, required by Section 13002 of the 21st Century Cures Act.
Prevention & Treatment
I often found that my psychiatric practice’s patients diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder or another mental illness also were living with untreated drug or alcohol problems.
The presence of both substance abuse and mental illness is known as a co-occurring disorder. Left untreated, this condition poses a serious threat to an individual’s quality of life, including increased risk of family problems, frequent drug relapse, numerous hospitalizations, unemployment, homelessness, serious physical illness and death.