Defeating opioids will take more

The opioid problem is unfortunately among the most discussed topics of today. The News-Herald’s editorial Feb. 6 was very insightful and thought-provoking.

Without more aggressive legislation targeting manufacture and prescribing, effective treatment programs and community-wide education/prevention — like that being developed by The Prevention Alliance — the problem will continue to dramatically worsen.

These are among the areas our attention and resources must be focused, and I don’t believe we’ve fully acknowledged the nature and scope of the problem and its impact upon our communities.

We must consider the profoundly negative and perpetuating effects of the stigmatization of those who, for whatever reason, have become addicted or dependent to these medications and other substances.

They are not dregs. They are our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, neighbors, etc., and are likely experiencing some level of physical or emotional pain, along with the torment of the substance. They are in need and deserving of humane, compassionate and effective treatment, and our prayers, love and concern.

There are no universal, one-and-done programs or miracle cures. It often takes up to 18 months following cessation of opioids for the addicted brain to rewire itself to its pre-addicted state. And then, for many, it is a lifelong, daily struggle to maintain abstinence. The rates of relapse are astronomical.

I believe at least all those needs identified in the editorial will be met through The Prevention Alliance of Loudon County’s efforts and the extensive resources available throughout Loudon County. I strongly encourage anyone concerned to support this initiative to whatever extent possible. It’s not someone else’s problem. It’s ours.

Steve Davis

Loudon County Health Improvement Council