May is Mental Health Awareness Month
In Jacksonville, FL, a place I’ve called home for 39 years, the number of 911 calls for suspected opioid overdoses tripled in the last two years, and in 2015, there were more than 10,700 emergency room visits attributed to opioid use in the state of Florida.The growing opioid epidemic has heavily taxed the Duval County morgue with regards to overcrowding. More than 500 people overdosed in this county last year and there appears to be no end in sight. Most of the deaths appear to be from heroin which dealers are cutting with the drug fentanyl. This is their cost effective way of using less heroin. They mix the heroin with the fentanyl, making it more potent, more deadly with surprisingly more people being attracted to it.
We know the need for substance abuse treatment and recovery is greater than the resources as evidenced by limited funding and waiting lists.
With any epidemic, prevention is key and our health care professionals on the front line must began screening patients to determine if they could be at risk for developing addictions to opioid medications.
Who is most at risk for addiction? According to national research:
Young men, age 18-24
Children of substance abusers
People who suffer with depression and bipolar disorder
People with high IQs
People who suffer with negative emotionality. Also known as negative affectivity is a personality trait which dictates how frequently or intensely people experience dark emotions like anger, stress, or sadness — these feelings can contribute to impulsivity and irrationality.
As a society, will we make the same mistakes of the crack cocaine epidemic in the form of criminalizing addiction and minimum mandatory sentencing?