Recently, a proposal was made in the Nevada Assembly to further the ability of emergency responders and other medical professionals to gain insight into drug use and its consequences. Assembly Bill 474 allows for real-time tracking of drug overdoses, meaning that any medical professional who knowingly treats someone for an opioid overdose or overdose on any substance would be mandated to report it to the state. In this way, real-time understanding of the nature of the drug epidemic can be had by all, allowing for a more immediate and effective response.
Though we currently track drug overdoses, there is often, at a minimum, a three-month lag in state updates, and overall numbers for the country are often more than a year out of date. For example, we currently have solid overdose numbers for 2015. After that, the tallies are still being done. While we have a rough idea of the changes, we do not have a full view that allows for a proactive response.
What Do We Need to Know?
If we know that there are drug overdoses occurring across the country, why don’t we just respond uniformly to the problem and increase access to treatment for people living with addiction, to education for medical professionals who can help to mitigate rates of new addictions due to painkiller overuse, and to overdose treatment drugs like naloxone? The fact is that we do all of those things, and while they are having a positive effect, there are still significantly high rates of death due to drug overdose in this country. When we have real-time information, we are empowered to direct specific efforts that can help to stop the spikes in overdoses as they are happening.
Some of the real-time information that can be helpful in this process includes:
- Age groups, race, gender, and other demographic information
- Drug of choice
- Common drug combinations triggering overdose
- Geographic locations
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said: “While Nevada has made progress, the scourge of opioid abuse is tearing our communities apart and I am committed to pursuing and implementing policies that help rid this epidemic once and for all.
“The state currently tracks rates of overdose, but the most current overdose death data the state has is from 2015 and both Nevada and the problem have changed since then. In order for the state to enact policy, or pursue appropriate interventions we need to have data that supports our problem, so we can allocate resources appropriately.”
The Resources at Our Disposal
Nevada reportedly has the fourth highest rates of drug overdose deaths in the country, a problem that is in dire need of attention. While we have implemented a number of measures to help identify those who are living with active addiction and then connect those people with effective treatment services while providing emergency medical care to those in the throes of overdose, it is still not enough.
It is important for families that are facing addiction in Nevada to have the information they need to accurately identify a substance use disorder in its early stages and to connect their loved one with treatment services that will be effective.
If you believe that your loved one is living with an addiction and at risk of overdose, here’s what you need to know:
- Treatment services that are research-based are effective in helping people to safely stop using all substances of abuse.
- Long-term recovery comes with long-term treatment and support. A minimum of 90 days of intensive outpatient or residential treatment, or some combination of these, is recommended.
- Even if your loved one is resistant to treatment, it can still have a positive effect.
- An intervention can help your loved one to better understand the nature of the situation and agree to get help.
Is today the day you make the move to help your loved one connect with a comprehensive drug addiction treatment program?