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How We're Fighting Addiction Right Now

With the opioid epidemic in our country right now, there’s a lot more bad news than good it seems. Big Pharma’s pill-pushing aggression, doctors overprescribing painkillers, the innocent pathways hundreds of individuals take before landing in full-blown opioid addiction, lack of funding for addiction treatment. Yes, we are in the throes of an actual epidemic whose impact has been compared to that of the HIV epidemic of the late 1980s. It might be slow moving, but things are being done, people are fighting, and sometimes they’re even winning. Here are a few things being done about addiction, right now, that can make you feel like we’re getting somewhere.

Programs that send addicts to treatment instead of prison

2015 brought us the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI), and the program has caught on like wildfire in cities across the United States. This initiative was started to support local police departments as they work with opioid addicts by addicts the opportunity to turn in their drugs and go to treatment in lieu of being arrested. Departments who adopt this program (from their website):

  • -Encourage opioid drug users to seek recovery

  • -Help distribute life-saving opioid blocking drugs to prevent and treat overdoses

  • -Connect addicts with treatment programs and facilities

  • -Provide resources to other police departments and communities that want to do more to fight the opioid addiction epidemi

PAARI was created by Gloucester Massachusetts Police Chief Leonard Campanello and has since been adopted by 20 other police departments in Massachusetts, and in 17 other states across the country. A trend we hope continues to grow.

Positive impact from the program was almost immediate, and in Gloucester alone more than 400 people have been placed in treatment programs for opioid addiction.

Access to naloxone & training to administer the lifesaving drug

Naloxone (popular brand name: Narcan) is a drug that blocks or reverses the side effects of narcotics, including slowed breathing, extreme drowsiness or loss of consciousness.

Heroin and prescription opioids (like Oxycontin, Fentanyl, Morphine, Vicodin, Percocet, etc.) are narcotics, they fit into specific receptors in the brain that affect the drive to breathe. If someone can’t breathe or is not breathing enough, the oxygen levels in the blood decrease, and eventually, the oxygen starvation stops other vital organs like the heart, then the brain. This leads to unconsciousness, coma and death.

Fortunately, an overdose is rarely instantaneous. While overdose deaths can happen within minutes, there is often time to intervene, which is why making naloxone accessible in places that need it most is key. Paramedics, police officers, and most importantly, drug users, their friends and family. From 1996 through June 2014, surveyed organizations provided naloxone kits to 152,283 laypersons and received reports of 26,463 overdose reversals. Statistics from a CDC report on naloxone programs show 82.8% of the reported overdose reversals were done by people who use drugs, and 9.6% by family and friends of a user. Service providers came in at a distant 0.2%. Read key takeaways from that report here.

Naloxone is administered through a nasal spray or an injection into the muscle. There is a growing number of supporters surrounding the availability of naloxone, but it isn’t necessarily easy to get everywhere. Recently CVS pharmacies announced offering naloxone without a prescription in select states, and Pennsylvania recently announced it will provide naloxone to all of the state’s public schools.

Funding more addiction treatment

We run to raise money for addiction treatment. This is how we take part in the fight against addiction and the stigma that it carries, proving with every finish line we cross and every step we take that recovery is both possible and phenomenal. Runwell is a positive, active and supportive social network, passionate about recovery and helping people achieve goals they never thought possible. Consider a healthier lifestyle by incorporating adventure and wellness, and help someone overcome addiction in the process. Learn more about getting involved here!

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