Portage County has seen an unprecedented number of people dying from drug overdoses. We have gone from five deaths in 2011 to 47 in 2016. Most of these are due to opiates that include heroin, pain killers, and fentanyl.
The Portage Substance Abuse Community Coalition is a group of organizations and individuals dedicated to preventing and treating substance use disorders. We would like to share a number of “truths” we have learned about substance use disorders:
Every person has value and strengths – the person is more than the addiction
The solution to this opiate epidemic is complicated and there is not one simple answer
Addiction is a treatable disease that is a mixture of biological (genetic predisposition), psychological, and social factors
Many people develop opiate dependence from the use of legitimate prescriptions for pain medication
Addiction is a community health problem rather than a criminal or moral problem - We cannot arrest our way out of the opiate crisis
Stigma surrounding addiction prevents people from seeking help and isolates families
Naloxone (Narcan) helps to keep people alive - it is not a treatment but rather one more opportunity for the person to get help
Naloxone has saved adults and children who have accidently misused drugs/medications
Relapse is a normal part of recovery
Mental health and trauma issues underlie many substance use disorders
Addiction affects everyone –families are broken, children are removed from homes, increase in crime, loss of jobs, homelessness, increase in healthcare costs, increase in accidents and deaths
In order to develop vital relapse prevention skills, people with addictions need to take responsibility for their recovery with supports
We need a comprehensive array of efforts -- education and prevention programs; withdrawal management; Narcan; outpatient treatment; residential treatment; recovery supports that include jobs, housing, transportation; and efforts to keep drugs out of the county. It takes local, state, and federal collaboration to combine funding and other resources to address and solve the problems of substance use disorders and addictions in Portage County. We need all of you to help with our current epidemic and invite you to join our Coalition by calling 330-673-1756.