Whatever their opinion of Burning Man, a festival that takes place in the desert of Nevada every year, the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe is working together with law enforcement to minimize abuse of drugs by travelers en route to the festival. Traffic stops are increasing along all routes to Burning Man. While those who run the show are unhappy with the increased traffic and interruption to festivities, the tribe is adamant that it will continue to support “high visibility enforcement operations with specialized drug interdiction teams.”
For those Burning Man attendees who feel that they are unfairly treated by a Pyramid Lake Tribal police officer, information was given to file a formal complaint if needed. However, it’s clear that their goal is to minimize the flow of drugs through the area as much as possible, a goal that may be in direct conflict with many festival attendees.
Tribal Difficulties with Drug Addiction
Tribes in Nevada and across the country have some of the highest rates of substance abuse, addiction, and overdose deaths of any population in the US. It is a struggle that has been unfolding for decades, long before the opioid crisis became apparent early this century. High rates of violence, sexual abuse, kidnapping, and more are likely playing a large role not only in substance abuse rates but also in the ability to connect with lifesaving treatment.
But now, rather than alcohol, opiate drugs are cutting short the lives of indigenous people more than any other substance. Like everyone in the US, the fight to save lives is difficult to manage while also addressing the increased burden placed on the healthcare system, court systems, child welfare, and more.
The good news is that the problem is well known and widely publicized, not just on reservations but also in surrounding communities. Officials in all Nevada communities, on reservations and off, are working together to cut off known drug trafficking routes and to connect people in crisis with treatment. It is a long hard fight for everyone, but the hope is that with persistence, rates of new cases of addiction will slow while those families who are continuing to face the problem will be able to more readily connect with treatment services.
When Your Family Is Burdened by Addiction
It is one thing to speak broadly about law enforcement efforts or legislative changes that will hopefully have a positive impact on the opiate epidemic at large in your community, and another thing entirely to figure out how best to handle the devastation of addiction as it unfolds in your home on a day-to-day basis.
If your loved one is using opiate painkillers outside the bounds of a medical prescription or using heroin or any opiate drugs sold on the street in any context, there are things you can do right now.
- Remove all unused prescription painkillers belonging to any family members from the home.
- If someone in the home must use painkillers regularly to manage pain, lock these pills up and keep them safe from abuse.
- Remove your loved one’s access to money, credit cards, and items of value that can be sold to buy more drugs.
- Make sure to keep two doses of naloxone on hand at all times in the event that your loved one overdoses while you are with them. Though one dose is often enough, in the cases of heroin spiked with highly potent fentanyl, two doses may be necessary.
Once you have things secured at home, you can take action and help your loved one to connect with treatment services.
- Discuss the nature of addiction and your loved one’s specific circumstances with a medical professional who can help you to determine what type of treatment services are needed.
- Search out the program that will provide your family with access to those treatment services.
- Begin to plan how you will handle the financial impact of treatment through insurance and other financial assistance options.
- Talk to your loved one about enrolling in treatment.
- Remove your continued support of their use of substances.
- Stage an intervention if your loved one does not see the need to enter addiction treatment immediately.
Are you ready to begin the process of helping your loved one overcome opiate addiction?