NewsHamilton County


Overdose deaths are down, but not everyone is receiving long-term treatment

Posted at 12:00 AM, Jan 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-22 10:34:41-05

More people are surviving drug overdoses, but a new study suggests not everyone is getting treated for heavy street narcotics and opioids.

The number of people dying from drug overdoses dropped between January 2018 and June 2019, and the number of people looking for long-term treatment rose, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, there’s some concern across the country for treatment of teens who survive an overdose.

A recent study found 1 in 3 teens who survive an overdose don't receive treatment that will keep them clean. Experts recommend teens and other overdose survivors get pharmacotherapy, a maintenance plan or medication-assisted treatment.

Mallory Finn battled a tough drug addiction to fentanyl and heroin as a young adult — an addiction that lasted more than 15 years.

“I had that daily thought every day, 'Do I just kill myself today?'" she said Tuesday. "'Can I just get enough heroin to kill myself?'”

Finn said she's clean and wants to stay clean, but she used to pride herself on her ability to use without overdosing. In summer 2019, that changed. She overdosed twice in one week. Her friends used Narcan to revive her, which she says put her straight into withdrawal.

“I was so sick when I came back that I used again, like right afterwards,” Finn said.

Amy Parker with BrightView Health said that’s what happens when people aren’t given a maintenance treatment plan that includes the use of drugs like buprenorphine or Suboxone.

“The medication works in the patient's body to help curb cravings and triggers so that the patient can focus on the therapy in the treatment program,” Parker said.

According to Parker, drugs like Suboxone are administered at a controlled rate and amount over a continued period of time while the patient is involved in therapy.

“It’s essentially training the receptors in the brain to go back to normal,” Parker said.

While Narcan is a life-saver, Parker said, it shouldn’t be thought of as the cure-all for addiction.

“Narcan is simply bringing that person back to life, allowing that person to still be alive," she said. "What’s needed beyond the Narcan is the treatment."

BrightView uses peer supporters that work with local hospitals to make sure overdose survivors know what treatment options are available to them.