Gateway Foundation’s Latest Protocol to Help Fight the Opioid Epidemic

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Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report that found overdoses from opioids jumped by nearly 30 percent in one year. From the third quarter of 2016 to the third quarter of 2017, staggering 30 percent more overdoses occurred than in the previous year across the nation. The region that saw the biggest increase is the Midwest, with Wisconsin seeing a 108.6 percent increase followed by Illinois, which saw a 65.6 percent increase. The opioid epidemic currently facing the country is one that is in dire need of help. People all across the country have lost loved ones in the battle against this crisis, and it has drawn concerns nationwide. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, drug overdoses are currently the leading cause of death among Americans under the age 50, and opioid overdoses are the leading causes of accidental deaths in the United States. This nationwide crisis is affecting people of all backgrounds, and it is making its way into more neighborhoods each day. It is something that needs to be addressed immediately and access to certain treatments is essential in saving lives.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the ongoing opioid crisis is the most significant public health and public safety crisis facing Illinois. This past year, nearly 1,900 people died of overdoses, which is almost double the amount of people who have lost their lives in car accidents. In addition to this high death toll are the families and individuals who have suffered great pain and loss, as well as the thousands of emergency department visits and hospital visits.

“The bitter reality of heroin and opiate use is the incredible risk of fatal overdose. With the introduction of overdose reversal agents, people with addiction and families are given the critical opportunity to enter treatment and find a new way to live, free from active addiction,” said Dr. Thomas Britton, CEO & President of Gateway.

To combat this crisis, Gateway Foundation has taken measures to help fight the battle against opioid use disorder and other substance use disorders. Gateway is now equipping clients being treated for opioid use disorder with the lifesaving opioid reversal drugs, Naloxone. Clients are being given Naloxone in an effort to help prevent overdoses. Naloxone, also known by its brand names, Narcan® and Evzio®, are lifesaving reversal medications that can block or reverse the effects of opioids to prevent an overdose.

Clients who are being treated for an opioid use disorder are equipped with Narcan or Evzio prior to leaving the facility, whether it is a day pass or if they are leaving the program. Before receiving either Narcan or Evzio, the clinical staff trains the clients in administrating the intake of the medication. These medications work by binding to opioid receptors and quickly blocking or reversing the effects of the opioids, and working to restore the individual’s breathing back to a normal level. Each client is given the opportunity to decide which brand they prefer, while taking into consideration insurance coverage and their preferred route of administration. Narcan is a nasal spray and Evzio is an auto-injector that has verbal instructions once it is automated.

Gateway also encourages clients to have the reversal medication on hand in case they ever come across someone that may be in need of the medication. Since family members are crucial in an individual’s rehabilitation process, they are also educated on the benefits of carrying one of the medications, and how to access and administer these medications.

Additionally, Gateway partnered with the Illinois Department of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (DASA), on two programs to help the fight against opioids in Illinois. The first is the Pre- and Post- Release Medication Assisted Treatment for Offenders. This program focuses on the incorporation of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), into the treatments offered in prison prior to an inmate’s release. The incorporation of MAT has the ability to decrease the risk of opioid overdose and death as well as the likelihood of relapse. Vivitrol, which is a medication that blocks an individual from getting high from opioids or alcohol, along with participation in ongoing case coordination is also offered. Less than one-third of inmates with opioid use disorder receive this treatment even though MAT is crucial and has been proven to be useful in helping individuals overcome their addiction to opioids.

The second program is the hospital Emergency Department-Based Services Program. This program is specific to hospital emergency departments that have seen a large increase in the admissions of individuals as a result of opioids. These ERs now staff licensed clinicians from Gateway to offer support by providing screening, placement, referrals, education, and risk reduction counseling.

Stigma around substance use disorders and those who experience it are extremely harmful. Seeking out professional help is of upmost importance when someone has a substance use disorder, but the stigma around receiving treatment prevents some from ever getting the help they need. A lack of access to necessary treatment is also hurting many who are faced with a substance use disorder. These medications are a step in the right direction in helping individuals with their addiction; however, they are not viable long-term solutions.

Footnotes

1. Illinois vs. the opioid epidemic
2. Illinois Plan
3. Jump In Overdoses Shows Opioid Epidemic Has Worsened
4. ‘So much death’: Opioid crisis hits home in Central Illinois

About Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers
Every year Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment helps thousands of adults and teens get their life back on track and gives renewed hope to those who care about them. With 50 years of treatment experience, our specialists take the time to understand of the specific needs of each individual. We then develop a customized treatment plan with recommendations for the most appropriate care based on an individual's substance abuse and mental health history. As the largest provider of alcohol and drug abuse treatment in Illinois, Gateway has 11 treatment centers throughout the state. Gateway outpatient and residential substance abuse treatment programs are not one-size fits all, but unique treatment plans that give an individual the highest chance for a successful outcome. With insurance acceptance and a track record of success, Gateway Treatment Centers help thousands of individual’s successfully complete treatment each year, and find the hope they need to live again.

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