Partnering to Solve the Opioid Crisis

Opioid addictionRising substance abuse problems stemming from prescription drugs have inspired health initiatives throughout the United States to tackle the opioid crisis. National health research has found that up to 29% of patients misuse prescription painkillers, and nearly 12% develop an opioid use disorder from opioids that are prescribed to manage chronic pain. With opioid-related deaths on the rise, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified this trend as “a national epidemic.”

As we learn more about opioid addiction, we are finding new ways to collaborate efforts and connect people with the right programs to make treatment possible. The following discussion explores how The Walker Center’s partnership with Idaho’s Response to the Opioid Crisis (IROC) can help people find the support they need.

Understanding the problem

The complexity of opioid abuse is multi-faceted from source to end user, demonstrated through increased accessibility and availability of the drugs. From 1999 to 2010, the volume of prescription opioids sold to pharmacies, hospitals, and provider’s offices nearly quadrupled, even though Americans did not report dramatic increases in pain level overall.

One of the biggest challenges of managing the problem is protecting and preventing our youth from access to plentiful supply. In an Idaho Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 17% of Idaho high school students reported taking a prescription medication without a doctor’s prescription at least once in their lifetime.

We know that misusing opioids can lead to destructive consequences, including dangerous risks of overdosing. In 2016, an Idahoan died every 34 hours from drug overdose. Research has found that at least 6 out of 10 overdoses involve an opioid. Given the growing problem, Idaho’s Response to the Opioid Crisis is working toward solutions.

Purpose and mission

The IROC project came to fruition as the State of Idaho’s leading health initiative to address the opioid problem, connecting individuals to needed medical support. IROC’s primary mission is to decrease the number of opiate-related deaths in Idaho by increasing access to treatment and recovery support services and lowering unmet treatment needs. To that end, the program supports and administers medication-assisted treatment, coordinating efforts with addiction treatment providers throughout the State.

Applying for support

The Walker Center fits into this equation as a certified, specialty provider for outpatient addiction treatment. By calling The Walker Center for a pre-screening, individuals can learn about treatment options and be assisted to determine eligibility for IROC support. If someone meets all the requirements, they may qualify for funding through the IROC program.

Through The Walker Center’s outpatient treatment program, individuals gain access to an entire team supporting their efforts. Each individual is paired with a counselor to help them learn about addiction as a disease and how to manage their thoughts and behaviors. A case manager serves to help with housing arrangements, offer employment/job support, and coordinate referrals for specialists for mental health and physical health needs. The Walker Center also works with an addiction medicine physician in the Twin Falls area, offering specialized care and treatment for the psychiatric and physical effects of addiction. Since addiction can bring up a variety of health complications, individuals benefit from the best addiction-focused care and expertise.

Spreading the word

The most important message from this information is to spread the awareness and knowledge that these resources exist. Too often people don’t seek out the medical help they need to overcome their addiction out of fear of costs. These are the people who need to hear that programs like IROC can help them afford treatment.

Are you considering treatment for a substance use disorder? Call The Walker Center today to get a free assessment and learn about your options.