The opioid crisis has been increasing at alarming rates all across the country. In Rochester, NY, opioid-related deaths are up 30%. Several factors have contributed to the steady increase in usage. One of which relates to the care of those using opioids is a lack of access to proper healthcare. The availability of healthcare has steadily been declining over the years. The Association of American Medical Colleges has predicted that that decline in access will be significantly larger by the year 2025. This will affect not only specialty care but primary care as well.
A lack of access to healthcare in many communities also contributes to the rise in opioid-related deaths. If people are unable to have access to emergency care, mortality rates increase. This is not only a nationwide problem, but can also be contributed to the communities themselves.
How Are Opioids Plaguing Our Communities?
Many areas where we see a high concentration of opioid usage are in areas of low income or high crime. Opioid usage has strong ties to crime. You have to consider that once people become hooked on opioids, they need to find ways to consistently procure them. This can be especially concerning for communities, as oftentimes there is a rise in gun crimes. While there are some laws in place for concealed carry, many states just require that the individual must be over 21, not banned, and some states have required certification courses that must be taken. Living in a high-crime area that has also become an opioid-heavy area affects all residents.
Opiets are an expensive habit, meaning that those who are addicted to them resort to crime for them to support their habit. This hurts the community because it heightens the risk of people falling prey to crimes.
How Opioids Affect Families
Opiod usage doesn’t just cause harm to the community, it also puts a strain on families that are struggling through their addictions, or the addictions of their loved ones. Opioid addiction can tear families apart, separating children from their parents. Around 24.5% of child removals in 2010 and 2015. Those numbers only continue to increase as the crisis rages on.
How to Help the Community of Rochester with its Opioid Crisis
The community of Rochester as a whole can have a significant impact on the opioid crisis. Part of the issue that causes opioids to become such a problem for individuals is that there is a severe lack of resources available to them. Educating the community members, first responders, and law enforcement in the area can drastically change how the opioid crisis can be handled.
For those struggling with opioid addiction, many times there are not many resources for them to take the steps to recovery. Creating safe spaces in places in the community for support groups, such as narcotics anonymous (NA), can be an olive branch for those seeking help. This can be as simple as a business or community center offering space at a designated time. Having a support system and gaining a sponsor can be a world of difference.
First responders should be trained on how to use Narcan. When responding to an overdose, there is a very slim opening of time where they can save the individual. Carrying and being properly trained to use Narcan can drastically lower opioid deaths. When it comes to law enforcement, creating taskforces that are designed to target areas of high usage. Law enforcement can also provide info on community outreach services for those struggling with opioid addiction that is free.
Helping those with opioid addiction in Rochester is a process that needs to be taken step-by-step. Understanding some of the causes and hurdles facing those with opioid addiction can make coming together as a community to offer support can help slow the growth.