Finding the Keys to Overcoming the Opioid Crisis

U.S. Capital where congress addresses the Current Opioid Crisis

Contributed by Staff of Timberline Knolls

Recent news headlines have brought the current opioid crisis in America back into the spotlight, particularly as lawmakers on Capitol Hill weigh in on funding for addiction and the in light of healthcare changes. In March of this year, the president labeled opioid abuse in the United States as a “total epidemic,” issuing an executive order which would effectively create a commission designed to combat opioid addiction and the current opioid crisis.

While the appointment of this commission focuses on addressing this crisis, policymakers and healthcare professionals alike are learning from communities that have been severely impacted by overdoses related to opioids, including painkillers and heroin.

Dangers of the Current Opioid Epidemic

A sign of the current opioid crisis - Ambulance Taking a Man who overdosed on opioids To The HospitalIn the face of changes to our healthcare system, many are concerned about resources that will be available to help address the opioid crisis in the United States. However, on the grounds where people are being directly impacted by opioid abuse, there is a sense of hope in the power of community to spur change.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 26.4 and 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide, with an estimated 2.1 million people in the United States struggling with substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers [1].

Sadly, drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., with opioid addiction driving this epidemic. In 2015 alone, over 20,000 overdose deaths were directly related to prescription pain relievers, and almost 13,000 overdose deaths resulting from heroin [2].

While there has been much debate among lawmakers on how the government should approach opioid abuse in the U.S., it is also recognized that communities themselves are key to fighting the opioid crisis. Actions are needed on all levels to appropriately address this crisis, including treatment providers, community agencies, and health care providers, and change is beginning in communities that are coming together to help people with opioid abuse disorder find treatment and recovery.

In response to the devastating toll that opioids have taken, many communities are uniting on the public health front to draw awareness and connect individuals suffering to needed treatment.

Involvement at the Community Level

Volunteer HandsFor many individuals, the opioid epidemic hits close to home, and many people know someone who has suffered in some shape or form.

While federal and state funds are necessary for prevention and treatment measures, whole community involvement can also be a powerful key in overcoming the opioid crisis.

If you are looking to make a difference and help bring hope to this situation that is dire for countless people, consider becoming involved on a community level. End Mass Overdose, Inc., Drug-Free Kids, National and Community Service, and Drug-Free America are but a few of the organizations that are working to fight on behalf of those who are struggling.

Involvement on a local level and with community agencies and organizations, including non-profit entities and the private sector, can be a powerful force of change that helps reduce the existing barriers to treatment.


[1]: National Institute On Drug Abuse, “Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse”, Accessed 11 May 2017
[2]: American Society of Addiction Medicine, “Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts and Figures”, Accessed 11 May 2017

Thank you to Timberline Knolls for providing this article.

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About the Author:

Headshot of Roseann RookAs a Clinical Addictions Specialist, Roseann is responsible for conducting psycho-educational and process groups as well as providing individual counseling for addiction treatment including co-occurring disorders such as Eating Disorders and Mood Disorders at Timberline Knolls. She specializes in Process Addictions with a strong focus on Relationship Addictions.

Roseann was instrumental in the development of Timberline Knolls’ Addiction Program and the implementation of addressing Process Addictions into the curriculum. As a member of Timberline Knolls’ Clinical Development Institute, she has presented locally and at National conferences.

Roseann has worked in the addictions field since 1993, starting at Aunt Martha’s Youth Service as an addiction counselor moved on to counsel MISA clients at Grand Prairie Services followed by working for the YMCA Network for Counseling and Youth Development as an Addictions Counselor and Crisis Worker. She returned to Grand Prairie Services for a brief stint to develop and implement an out-patient program before joining Timberline Knolls in 2006.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on May 15, 2019.
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About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.