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Watching statistics on the rise of opioid overdoses, and feeling the heartbreak and helplessness, many of us feel compelled to ask, “What can we do?”
Recently I had conversations with professionals who have a lot of experience in the field of addiction: Dr. Lantie Jorandby, Board Certified Psychiatrist, and fellowship at Yale in addiction psychiatry, Carolyn Castro-Donlan, PhD, currently collaborating on Medically Assisted Treatment with suboxone, and Sallie Morgan, Executive Director of the Mental Health Association for Fauquier County, Virginia, who is deeply involved in bringing prevention programs into the schools.
They all agree with some form of Medical Assisted Treatment, coupled with therapy to help those who are struggling with detox and weaning off opiates in a safe, more comfortable withdrawal.
Dr. Jorandby has seen egregious over-prescribing of opioids over the years by “mostly well-meaning doctors.” She says that cycle needs to be curbed, but also there’s a need for “clear, and careful guidelines at a medical/administrative level to taper people off opiates.”
Treatment and limiting access to opioids is important but the focus must be on prevention, which is where communities can contribute.
Work with your schools and communities about:
Bringing awareness and education programs to the schools/parent groups to eliminate stigma. Fear and shame are two big reasons people hesitate to get treatment. So if we can raise awareness, and lower stigma, more people will seek help.
Encourage mindfulness practices to be taught in the schools. Given the statistics on how meditation and gratitude can change the brain, and enhance emotional resilience, and healthier outlook, all three women emphasized the need for these kind of practices to be used in prevention and treatment, encouraging their use in schools, even beginning at t very early age, to help children be better at problem solving and wiser in decision making.