In today’s edition of The New York Times, Odyssey House President Dr. Peter Provet comments on “New Mothers Derailed by Drugs Find Support in New Hampshire Home” (News, Dec. 12), on the devastating toll the opioid epidemic is inflicting on families.
The drumbeat of bad news on the toll the opioid epidemic is taking on communities across America just keeps getting worse. But the statistic cited in your article that as of 2012 a baby is born suffering from opioid withdrawal every 25 minutes is most sobering.
We have not seen such a collapse of families since the crack epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s. What we learned then, and need to remember today, is that when we connect pregnant women with treatment services that keep the mother and child together, we save two lives.
What’s different now is that many of the families affected are from rural and suburban communities, where access to treatment is limited, if not nonexistent. In urban centers like New York City, treatment organizations have developed supportive networks that connect at-risk people with services that both save lives and protect communities.
As we look to a new president with so much unknown about the direction his administration will take on containing the opioid epidemic, we hope that he will be open to listening to lessons learned decades ago: that treatment, not punishment, is the surest and cheapest cure for addiction, and that what works in the cities will also work in the suburbs and rural America.