The opioid epidemic continues to worsen each year. Overdose rates have reached new record highs, surpassing car accidents, murders, and suicides in 2016. In fact, it’s now the leading cause of death of Americans under 50 years old.
The northeastern United States, including Maryland, is among the areas hit hardest in the country. Transnational drug trafficking organizations like Mexican cartels have increased their presence in major cities in the northeast, deadly fentanyl is making its way to the east coast by ship, and there are limited substance abuse treatment resources available to Marylanders.
However, with the full weight of the opioid and drug epidemic taking center stage in the media limelight and on political forums, more is being done to combat the opioid epidemic now than ever before. While the progress is slow, there are options available to Marylanders who are struggling with addiction.
Addiction is a disease that is both chronic and progressive. It’s difficult to get out from under the oppression of addiction, especially on your own. Because of this, relapse rates are about as high as other chronic diseases like diabetes and asthma. It can vary based on the drug but, on average, people relapse 40 to 60 percent of the time after abstinence. However, medical drug detox and substance abuse treatment is the best option you have to become drug-free and live a life of long-term recovery and sobriety.
In Maryland, the overdose epidemic has made a significant impact according to data collected by The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH). In 2016, Maryland had 1,468 deaths involving or related to drug overdose. Addiction and overdose are affecting people from all walks of life and across all demographics. Opioids such as fentanyl and heroin, as in the rest of the country, are driving most of the overdose deaths in Maryland.
Fentanyl is a deadly drug that’s cheaper and easy to make than its opiate counterparts. Because it’s about 50 times stronger than heroin, small amounts can be used to cut heroin or strengthen diluted heroin. Fentanyl is making its way into heroin supplies and is used without people knowing that it’s even there. Its potency is often more powerful than even hardened heroin users can handle.
In fact, fentanyl is so potent that a lethal dose for the average human is lighter than a single grain of sand. When someone unknowingly takes fentanyl, overdose can cause respiratory depression, which means breathing can slow to dangerous levels or even stop completely. Maryland’s health department continues to warn people of the dangers of heroin unknowingly containing fentanyl.
The impact of the opioid epidemic on Maryland has triggered a response from local authorities and politicians. Governor Larry Hogan has worked with federal and local authorities to combat the rise in overdose deaths.
DHMH has worked to expand access to naloxone or Narcan, a drug that binds to opioid receptors and blocks the action of opioids. It effectively stops an overdose in its tracks and reverses its effects. In 2015, Deputy Secretary Dr. Howard Haft issued an order allowing licensed pharmacists to dispense the life-saving drug without the need for a prescription.
Maryland also amended it’s Good Samaritan Law in 2015 to prevent people who are helping in overdose situations from being arrested or charged with certain crimes. This allows people who believe someone is experiencing a medical emergency because of alcohol or drug ingestion to seek or give assistance to a person without fear of being charged with a crime.
In 2018, Illinois reported a surge in hospitalizations because of synthetic cannabinoids, also called Spice. The drug was found to cause internal bleeding and bleeding through the nose, gums, and urine. It was found to contain rat poison that acts as an anti-coagulation agent, which can stop clotting and increase bleeding.
As of April 4th, when a case was reported in Maryland, the Department of Health and the Maryland Poison Center issued warnings that synthetic marijuana in the state could be laced with poison.
Substance abuse treatment is a process by which chemical dependence on drugs is treated medically and then underlying emotional, cognitive, and psychological contributions to addiction are addressed.
Medical needs are addressed first through medical detox, which typically lasts between a few days and two weeks depending on a number of factors including the type of drug you used, the amount of time you were in active addiction, and the dosage that you were used to. It may also depend on co-occurring medical issues such as infections, injuries, or other chronic diseases.
Once your need for medical management has ended, you can be connected to a treatment program that is right for your specific needs. In rehab, you will have a treatment plan that is tailored to your personal history, history of drug use, the presence of any co-occurring disorders, and other important factors. You will also sit down with an addiction counselor to talk about your needs and concerns in order to help plan your treatment and addiction therapies.
Not every treatment program is equally effective. If you are considering a drug treatment program, it’s important to look at what makes addiction treatment effective and what doesn’t. While we have much to learn in the fight against addiction, studies have shown that there are several factors that maximize a treatment program’s effectiveness.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse has compiled 13 principles of effective treatment and a few of them have become cornerstone philosophies for high-quality treatment centers. Here are a few of the most important factors you should look for in effective treatment, according to NIDA:
ADDICTION IS A DISEASE OF THE BRAIN
Psychoactive, addictive drugs alter the way the brain perceives drugs and drug use. When dependence on a drug develops, your reward center will start to process your drug of choice like it’s something you need to survive. The cravings that would normally be reserved for food, sleep, and other important life sustainers are shifted to drugs. After drug detox, you will still have to deal with cravings that may drive you to relapse. A treatment center that understands the need to treat addiction as a disease that needs long-term relapse prevention strategies is essential.
NO ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL TREATMENT
There is no such thing as a treatment plan that works for everyone. People are different and they have different needs. Plus, addiction itself can have a variety of root causes that need to be addressed. Because of this, treatment needs to be personalized to the individual to maximize the individual’s potential for success.
ATTENDING TO MULTIPLE NEEDS
People who seek treatment for a substance use disorder may present a number of issues, some related to drug use and some not. For instance, injecting drugs increases a person’s risk for infectious diseases, so they may need medical treatment when they first enter a program. Treatment should meet the medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal needs of each person. Addiction can affect all aspects of a person’s life so they may need treatment and assistance in multiple areas. This is why case management is an important aspect of addiction treatment.
ADEQUATE TREATMENT DURATION
Addiction treatment has shown to be ineffective if it is cut short. According to NIDA, studies have shown that substance abuse treatment is most effective after at least 90 days of treatment. Of course, treatment duration also needs to respond to the client’s needs. However, 90 days from detox to the completion of treatment is the ideal standard. Detox typically lasts between a few days and two weeks before clinicians help to connect you to a treatment center that is able to meet your recovery needs.
In conjunction with any necessary medications you receive in medical detox, you should also be treated with evidence-based addiction therapies during treatment. Interventions like cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, family therapy, individual counseling and other options are proven to help people with substance use disorders and co-occurring disorders.
At Maryland House Detox, we use a team of medical professionals to provide high-quality detox treatment to get you started on the road to recovery. However, we are also connected to a network of diverse treatment centers and we’re committed to helping you find a recovery plan that meets your needs.