According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the United States is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic. Heroin is the most rapidly acting of opiates and has become an epidemic across the country. The discussion will address prescription opioids and heroin. This class will provide basic knowledge of its abuse, the effects on the body and implications for treatment and criminal justice supervision. In short, the CDC stated that opioid epidemic was already the deadliest in American history in 2015. More Americans died of drug overdoses in 2016 than died in the entirety of the Vietnam War — the result of the America’s opioid epidemic and is likely to be even worse once the final numbers are in for 2017.
The severity of the opioid problem in the US is so serious that the CDC has categorized it to be an epidemic. The number of deaths due to drug overdose in 2016 alone surpassed the number of deaths for the entire Vietnam War. It is all over the news, affecting people from all walks of life.
Denise Beagley from Chandler Fire Department’s Crisis Intervention Unit and Arizona State University's Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy joins the Justice Clearinghouse to talk about the opioid crisis. Denise's prolific career has been predominantly on the field of behavioral health, psychology, and criminal justice including probation.
On this webinar, Denise will discuss the extent of the epidemic, and provide basic knowledge about opioid abuse, its effects, and treatments available.
Some of the points highlighted in the course include:
Topline statistics illustrating:
- The cost entailed for the US government related to heroin abuse cases.
- The number of people entangled in substance abuse involving opioids.
- How drug overdose caused a significant chunk of deaths for Americans aged 50 and below.
- The states with the most number of recorded opioid overdose deaths.
- The importance of understanding addiction as a disease that impacts the brain instead of viewing it as a character failure or personal fault.
- How addiction impacts the individual’s life as well as the people who care about them.
- Video clips explaining the hierarchy of survival and how addiction develops.
- The progression of addiction from getting that first hit, chasing that initial high, to increasing tolerance and dosage.
- How addiction rewires the brain making it impossible or difficult for the individual to control their decisions.
- The reasons why people take drugs and why they can’t seem to stop using.
- Pointers for first responders when dealing with a drug overdose-related call.
- What heroin is, how it is used, how it affects an individual and the side effects and risks associated to it.
- What opioids and opiates are, and the difference between the substances.
- Common prescription opioids that may serve as the gateway towards substance abuse.
- The effects of opioids and the symptoms of abuse.
- General signs and symptoms to look out for, potential health risks of substance abuse, as well as its effects on the brain.
The holistic approach to substance abuse that addresses:
- The body first through detoxification, exercise, nutrition, and proper rest.
- The mind through counseling, therapy and peer support to address trauma, pain, and other emotional or psychological issues.
- The spirit by aligning personal goals and ideals to their behavior through spiritual support.
- Medicines used to treat heroin overdose (naloxone, methadone, suboxone), its characteristics, and how each of these work.
- Recommended readings and further resources to assist with substance abuse cases and response.
Denise addressed the attendees’ questions related to:
- The weighted statistics of overdose deaths per state population.
- Individuals who turn to other substances after using opiates.
- Vivitrol dosage and the importance of therapy on top of medication.
- Providing support to the loved ones of individuals affected or lost due to substance abuse.
- Dealing with compassion fatigue as a first responder.
- The benefits of clean needle programs as a form of treatment.
- Accessible and affordable treatment programs.
- Getting help and treatment for mentally-ill substance abusers before dealing with them as criminals.
Resources Mentioned During the Webinar:
- Hooked AZ RX: https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/hookedrx/
- Understanding Addiction as a Disease: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTdaNj5zOEs
- Nuggets Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkZXEf304ss
- American Epidemic: The Nation’s Struggle With Opioid Addiction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNj89ohoYQ0
- Denise Beagley, M.Sc. Email: Denise.Beagley@asu.edu