In today’s edition of The New York Times, Odyssey House President Dr. Peter Provet comments on a recent article (“Drug Overdoses Propel Rise in Mortality Rates of Whites,” front page, Jan. 17) on the rising death rates for young white adults, driven by the opioid epidemic.
Deaths and Broken Lives from Drug Overdoses
To the Editor:
The dramatic increase in drug overdose deaths is not new to drug treatment. For several years treatment providers have been racing to save the lives of young Americans addicted to opioids as what started as a surge in prescription drug abuse morphed into a full-blown opioid epidemic.
It is also not news that intensive residential and outpatient treatment services are in short supply, and what resources are available in many parts of the country are often prohibitively expensive for the vulnerable populations who need them the most.
That today’s vulnerable addicts now include growing numbers of young white Americans highlights the tragedy of opioid addiction as a great equalizer.
Decades of experience treating young people from inner-city communities ravaged by drugs has shown us that recovery is a multistep, time-consuming process that, for the fortunate ones who are helped quickly enough, starts with overdose-prevention injections and detox, and continues with medically assisted treatment, behavior therapy and continuing community-based support.
Anything less just doesn’t work and is merely a Band-Aid that will inevitably lead to the loss of more young lives – tragically, lives we know how to save.