Like many large cities, our own Philadelphia has been struggling and in a significant crisis with opioid deaths and addictions. Almost daily we read and hear about different tragedies related to opioids. It is not simply a Philadelphia problem but a national one that continues to plague our families and communities.
The Philadelphia Inquirer just published an article that describes what our city is doing to deal with this compelling and destructive issue. Here is some of the background text regarding the extensiveness of this problem:
Philadelphia is home to the worst urban opioid crisis in America. More than 3,000 people have died of drug overdoses here in the last three years, and the city health department estimates that tens of thousands of Philadelphians are addicted to opioids.
As the epidemic has worsened, city officials, hospitals, and outreach workers have scrambled to address a complicated public health crisis with few easy answers.
The city has spent more than a year pouring resources and initiatives into Kensington, the neighborhood at the epicenter of the crisis. Two years after fatal overdoses hit an all-time high — claiming 1,217 people in 2017 — it appears that the 2019 toll will be similar to 2018′s, when 1,116 people died.
The article goes on to summarize the steps the city is taking to mitigate the problems that are related to opioid addictions and deaths in this coming 2020 year. It is an aggressive approach that offer some new interventions and options for those who are struggling with this issue. I appreciate that Philadelphia is attempting to be aggressive in providing resources to those who are looking to find help and relief from this serious crisis. I believe these interventions will help with those who are struggling with this issue and hopefully many lives will be saved.
However, we still must recognize that most individuals who struggle with addictions have a trauma history. We will not have a comprehensive strategy to prevent addictions unless we also address the personal stories of each individual who has been identified as addicted. The need to regulate their brains and emotional states is so powerful that opioids become a viable option.
There are other tools and interventions available that we can access much earlier in their life journey. As much as I appreciate the interventions that can help, we also must provide a stronger emphasis in training the professionals and systems that work with these individuals in the principles and practices of trauma-informed care.