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Addiction: The cartels haven’t been slowed

In a recent news report from the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported from El Paso, Texas that Mexican drug cartels have adapted to COVID-19, showing a 56 percent increase in hard drugs like methamphetamines, heroin and fentanyl crossing the border from Mexico to the United States in August (www.wkbn.com/news).

The 2019 World Drug Report tells us that 35 million people worldwide suffer from drug use disorders while only one in seven actually receive treatment, advises the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. It is estimated that there are 53 million opioid users globally.

“Fentanyl and its analogues remain the key problem of the synthetic opioid crisis in North America.” In western, central and northern Africa, the crisis is related to tramadol. And the most widely used drug globally is cannibus. The substance abuse problems exist around the world. (It is recommended that you visit https://www.unodc.org/wdr2019 for the full World Drug Report and the content that explains it and where you can see the big picture in substance use disorders.)

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health also addresses the issues of substance use disorders. Nora Volkow, M.D., director of NIDA, says that “…decades of research have demonstrated that drug use alters brain circuitry that is involved in self-regulation and reward-processing, which over time hijacks a person’s ability to stop taking drugs, leading to irrational drug seeking…

“Yet behaviors related to the desperate needs of addiction reinforce old, incorrect assumptions about personal responsibility, and the false belief that willpower should be sufficient to stop drug use.”

Stigma is a big part of the problem, they say. A patient may not ask for help or may refuse to go for treatment for a different health condition because of the way they were treated in the past.

“External stigma becomes internalized by the patient, and the resulting social isolation can encourage further drug-taking,” NIDA states.

“Addiction,” says Dr. Volkow, “is a chronic relapsing and treatable brain disease. Respect and compassion, with access to care, is more effective than stigmatizing and isolating patients for something they can no longer manage or control.”

Dr. Volkow’s article, “Stigma and the Toll of Addiction,” appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine earlier this year.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. Visit the web site at www.familyrecovery.org. Family Recovery Center is funded in part by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

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