How to Take Action: Getting Involved to Help Stop the Opioid Epidemic

End the Stigma Associated with Addiction

An integral component of combating the opioid drug epidemic is ending the stigma. Far too many people are embarrassed or afraid to seek help because of the stigma still attached to drug abuse. Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. Like any chronic disease, it needs to be treated professionally. You can help end the stigma associated with substance abuse by reaching out to friends touched by this crisis. Honor a loved one or friend who lost their battle with drug addiction by writing a memorial tribute or creating a memorial fundraiser. And when you feel ready, share your story – providing a human face to the opioid epidemic can spread the message far more than statistics alone.

Help Combat the Crisis at Home

When a family member is struggling with addiction, talking about the problem can be healing for everyone involved. Lies, deception and manipulative behavior are commonplace, but an open dialogue provides the best chance of helping loved ones when they need you most. Additional tips:

  • If you have kids, talk to them openly about the dangers of opioid misuse and other drugs
  • Store all drugs securely in your home and dispose of them safely
  • Help a loved one get residential or outpatient drug treatment

Partner with Community Organizations

Many communities around the country have sponsored forums to discuss the opioid epidemic and develop possible solutions. If your community has not done so, talk to local officials about the importance of getting involved and offer to volunteer your time to bring this idea to fruition. The premise is that communities are best equipped to identify and act on effective solutions. Involving the community in this important conversation helps ensure more people understand how the drug epidemic impacts everyone.

Support Addiction Services for Families

At the national and local level, very little funding has been appropriated for family services, yet parents and families often cope alone with all the overwhelming consequences of a loved one’s addiction. Family members navigate insurance coverage for treatment, pay out-of-pocket costs, help children find work and places to live while in recovery, and provide critical emotional support. Join the #FamiliesSpeakUp movement by asking your Senator to support funding in CARA 2.0 for family support.

Support the Right to Drug Treatment

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (Parity Act of 2008) requires health plans to provide equal coverage for mental health and substance use services as for other medical and surgical benefits. Yet in 2016, private insurance companies covered only 18% of substance use disorder treatment compared to 35% for all other healthcare services. Sign this petition to help ensure more people who need substance use treatment can access it and get reimbursed through insurance.

Take the Pledge

If you are a healthcare professional, you are certainly aware of the prescription drug crisis. Unless you are on the front lines, you may not know how to help an addict. Turn the Tide RX is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and U.S. Surgeon General. It reads: As healthcare professionals, we believe we have the unique power to end the opioid crisis. We pledge to:

  1. Educate ourselves to treat pain safely and effectively.
  2. Screen our patients for opioid use disorder and provide or connect them with evidence-based treatment.
  3. Talk about and treat addiction as a chronic illness, not a moral failing.

Volunteer or Contribute to an Addiction-Related Organization

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids: This organization is committed to helping families struggling with their son or daughter’s substance abuse. They’ve been supporting families and responding to the changing drug landscape for more than 30 years. They offer many ways to get involved in this worthy cause. Young People in Recovery (YPR): YPR envisions a world where everyone can access the necessary resources to recover from addiction and associated high-risk behaviors. YPR’s mission is to provide the training and networks all individuals, families and communities need to recover and maximize their full potential. Heroes in Recovery: The organization’s mission is to eliminate the social stigma that keeps individuals with addiction and mental health issues from seeking help, to share stories of recovery for the purpose of encouragement and inspiration, and to create an engaged sober community that empowers people to get involved, give back and live healthy, active lives. Facing Addiction with NCADD: For more than 70 years, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence has been a valuable resource for millions of people struggling with alcohol and other drug problems. Launched in 2015, Facing Addiction has become the leading voice among the nearly 45 million people and their families whose lives have been directly impacted by addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Help build a national response strong enough to turn the tide against addiction.

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