Mention the opioid epidemic, and many people might think it’s something that mostly affects the person using the drugs.
But the epidemic has much deeper roots, reaches much further than any one person, and battling it requires a cooperative effort from an array of medical and human services professionals.
On Friday, Healthy Outcomes through Prevention and Education for Sullivan County held its fourth annual opioid-prevention conference at the New Hope Community in Loch Sheldrake, New York. An audience of treatment and human services providers listened as speakers discussed the myths and realities around opioid- and substance-use disorders, medication-assisted treatment and stigma; infant mental health and how it forms the foundation of lifelong mental health; opioid addiction in pregnancy, and other topics.
Understanding opioid-use disorder requires understanding the nature of the drugs, said Dr. Kelly Ramsey, Director of Substance Use Disorders at Hudson River Healthcare, speaking at the conference. Opioids bind to receptors in the brain that produce dopamine, the same chemical we all produce when something gives us pleasure.
Cut off opioids, and a person with opioid-use disorder will go into withdrawal, a physically painful process that also lays bare the anxiety, post-traumatic stress and other issues that the patient had been self-medicating to suppress.
If someone isn’t ready to stop using the substance, she said, a provider should work with them to reduce the risks of harm.
Source: Times Herald-Record