The State of the Opioid Crisis


Health research firm Avalere Health looked at how the different states across the country have responded to the ongoing opioid epidemic. When conducting its research, Avalere took into consideration the amount of buprenorphine providers in the state compared to the opioid overdoses a state has. Avalere specifically looked at the number of buprenorphine providers because medications have been shown to cut the mortality rate among opioid actions by half or even more. Some states have fared better than others during this epidemic, but a lack of access to buprenorphine providers is hurting many with substance use disorder all over the country.

States that have large numbers of buprenorphine providers have fared better as individuals with substance use disorder have more access to these providers and medically implemented treatment plans.

When asking health experts what should be done to address the opioid crisis, all said they would put half of the budget to treatments that have an emphasis on medications, such as buprenorphine.

The state of Illinois is one of 11 states plus D.C. that is significantly worse than average when it comes to the ratio of the number of buprenorphine providers to the amount of opioid overdoses in the state. In 2016, 1,946 Illinoisan lives were lost to the opioid crisis and this number is expected to grow.

At Gateway Foundation, for the past 50 years, taking the extra step ensuring that the best care is provided for all patients has been the key. It is no different today. Gateway provides Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) when it is it medically appropriate for the patient. MAT is offered at Gateway as part of the comprehensive alcohol and drug rehab programs. The use of medication has been shown to have positive impacts and decrease the likelihood of relapse and overdoses.

The implementation of programs such as MAT is just one of the many steps Gateway has taken to make sure all patients are taken care of. It is through these initiatives that Gateway has consistently received better results than the statewide average according to the DASA Quality Indicators. These stats include higher rates of successful treatment completion, and abstinence from alcohol and drugs at discharge.

The Dangers of Alcohol Use Disorder

A new study conducted by the University of Queensland found that Tandospirone, an antidepressant, can help to reverse the effects of drinking. According to the study, researchers believe this antidepressant will work by preventing depression and anxiety, which are both common withdrawal symptoms that cause many individuals to give into their carvings and ultimately, drink. The study also found that Tandospirone is able to reverse some of the damage that long-term and excessive drinking causes on neuron generation.1 This new finding, along with other research that is being conducted, can prove to being beneficial to helping individuals overcome alcohol use disorder.

Alcohol use disorder can be hard to spot due to the fact that consumption of excess amounts of alcohol has been normalized in many aspects. Unlike many other substances, drinking has less of a taboo around it, and it has become a staple in many social situations. In addition, alcohol is seemingly everywhere – on billboards, television screens, the local happy hour get together, etc. Alcohol’s prevalence is not questioned today, which makes it hard to pick out who has an alcohol use disorder. It is estimated two-thirds of Americans consume alcohol yearly; however, half of all of the alcohol that is consumed in the United States each year is consumed by only 10 percent of those who drink.2

With nearly 15.1 million adults with alcohol use disorder in the United States, alcohol directly or indirectly affects the lives of almost everyone.3 Just in the United States, 53 percent of people have one or more relatives who have an alcohol use disorder. Currently, an estimated 6.6 million children are living with a parent that has an alcohol use disorder.

The effects of alcohol and the development of alcohol use disorder are not regarded as being as harmful as other substance use disorders. Yet, alcohol has proven to be deadly and extremely harmful. There are approximately 79,000 deaths in the United States each year due to alcohol, making alcohol the third leading cause of preventable deaths.2 Each day there are 30 deaths as a result of alcohol-related car accidents, and 6 deaths from alcohol poisoning.4

Alcohol has also been linked to higher violent crimes rates and domestic violence. Over one-third of the annual violent crimes committed involve an offender who was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crime. In addition, two-thirds of domestic or partner violence victims reported the involvement of alcohol during the offense. In these instances, three out of four spousal violence incidents involved an offender who had been under the influence of alcohol.2

Excessive alcohol consumption actually the brain as it sensitizes certain brain circuits and affects the neurotransmitters levels. Use of alcohol also affects the part of the brain that is involved in decision-making, which makes it harder for a person to stop drinking.5 Withdrawals from alcohol can be deadly, which makes seeking out professional help absolutely crucial to one’s livelihood. This makes the finding that less than 8 percent of individuals with alcohol use disorder seeking out professional help all the more alarming. Research shows in-patient treatment program is more likely to result in safe and long-term recovery.6

Quitting drinking can be very tough to navigate, and even with the new research that is being conducted, the preferred and safest method to recovery is through seeking out professional help.


1. 3 Things Research Learned About A New Alcohol Treatment Drug That Counters Brain
2. Drug Addiction Statistics – Alcoholism Statistics and Data Sources
3. Alcohol Facts and Statistics
4. 2018 Alcoholism Statistics You Need to Know
5. Brad Pitt Goes Sober: Why It’s So Tough to Quit Alcohol
6. Can Heroin, Benzo or Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Death?

Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital and Gateway Foundation Work to Address Opioid Crisis

Gateway Foundation has entered into an agreement with Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital, a leader in delivering advanced medical technologies and comprehensive health care services, to address the opioid crisis in Lake County and McHenry County.

In coordination with Good Shepherd Hospital staff, Gateway Foundation is placing a full-time, credentialed engagement specialist in the hospital’s emergency department. The specialist will work with patients presenting with medical issues related to Opioid Use Disorder. The engagement specialist also will work closely with emergency department social workers and care managers, and completes a clinical assessment and continuing care plan with the patient. The goal is to make sure patients are directly transferred or referred into opioid addiction treatment. Gateway Foundation also provides recovery coaches who continue to support these individuals seeking treatment or while in recovery.

Marc“For fifty years, Gateway Foundation has been leading the way towards quality interventions that have saved the lives of thousands of individuals impacted by substance use disorder. Today we take another step forward by partnering with colleagues in the health system to provide enhanced and integrated care to those most in need – the members of our communities that are negatively impacted by opioid use,” said Marc Turner, President of Gateway’s Community Services Division.  “We expect this collaboration will be the first of many as we expand our reach across Illinois to be part of the solution for as many families as possible.”

There is much evidence of the impact of the opioid crisis seen every day at Good Shepherd and hospitals throughout the state. From 2009 to 2014, Illinois was the seventh highest among the 50 states for opiate-related inpatient hospital stays. For Good Shepherd’s primary service area, the age-adjusted emergency department rate due to substance abuse has consistently climbed, from 9.5 visits per 10,000 population in 2010-2012, to 12.4 visits per 10,000 population in 2012-2014.

About Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment: Since 1968 our goal has been straightforward: to help clients get their life back on track and achieve a life of sobriety, free from drug use and symptoms of mental illness, that is productive, socially responsible, and healthy. Gateway Foundation is the largest nonprofit treatment provider in the country that specializes in the treatment of substance use disorders, providing treatment for men, women, adolescents, and clients diagnosed with co-occurring mental health disorders. Gateway’s professional clinicians help thousands of individuals successfully complete treatment by developing a personalized plan that treats the underlying causes of substance abuse—not just addiction to drugs or alcohol.

About Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital: Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Illinois, is a 176-bed, acute care hospital with more than 700 physicians. It is a leader in delivering the most advanced medical technologies and comprehensive health care services available in the northwest suburbs. In 2017, Good Shepherd Hospital completed a four-year modernization project, ensuring that care delivery remains outstanding and attuned to the community’s evolving needs. Good Shepherd Hospital is part of Downers Grove-based Advocate Health Care, the largest health system in Illinois and one of the largest health care providers in the Midwest.

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