Community must treat opioid use like disease
Letter to the Editor:
I am writing in regard to the article “Eagle River police launch drug addiction program” in the Jan. 11 issue of the News-Review.
It is very unfortunate that recently opioid overdose is now the leading cause of injury death in Wisconsin. This problem is rather common in the United States, but the opioid overdose statistics in Wisconsin have risen dramatically over a very short period of time.
This is a multifaceted problem, but our first step is destigmatization. The recent opioid overdoses are directly related to an overall decrease of prescribing large amounts of painkillers. This crackdown, which is absolutely necessary, causes people with narcotic addiction to seek it through heroin, rather than narcotic painkillers.
Many reports all over the United States are pointing to heroin laced with fentanyl (a super-potent narcotic), most likely from China, as the culprit to the heroin overdoses. This problem is not going away anytime soon.
We must treat opioid addiction like a disease, a problem of brain chemistry, rather than pointing fingers at past poor choices. These people with narcotic addiction are not given proper immediate treatment, or the treatment given is not nearly long enough to address the brain chemistry (most experts say at least three months of treatment are required to rewire the brain to not crave the substance).
We must use every resource of our community to offer treatment, rather than prosecution, and offer solutions, rather than blame.