Addiction is a disease

DEAR EDITOR:

Ohio’s opiate epidemic continues to devastate families and communities throughout the state. A new report was published recently by the Kaiser Family Foundation showing that Ohio led the nation in opioid overdose deaths. The report is based on 2014 numbers, when one in nine heroin deaths in the U.S. occurred in Ohio. Although the data in the report are unofficial, deaths increased in 2015 and continued to increase in 2016.

In spite of the tragedies each death represents, there is some good news: People are entering treatment each day, and even an overdose is not necessarily a death sentence. Lives can be saved. Thousands of Mahoning Valley residents received treatment in 2016, and many of those who have been connected with recovery supports achieve and sustain long-term recovery. Our Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention is leading the way to educate our children that drug use is dangerous. Our treatment providers are seeing success each day. Research has proven that addiction is a disease — just like cancer and diabetes. We don’t give up on people with those kinds of diseases, so let’s not give up on our community members who suffer with the disease of addiction.

As we continue to address the opiate epidemic in Ohio, we all need to come together — to recognize the problem, to work together to combat it, and to share hope and successes. In 2017, let’s change the conversation. Let’s talk about how addiction is a chronic disease of the brain. Let’s talk about how treatment works and people recover. And let’s celebrate those in recovery in our community!

April Caraway

Executive Director

Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board

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