New report claims shift needed in perception of addiction

The report claims every dollar spent on prevention can save $4 on health care

EASTHAMPTON/NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The U.S. Surgeon General’s report found that 1 in every 7 people will face a substance abuse disorder, but only 10% of those people will even seek treatment.

Drugs, tobacco, alcohol. It can all be addictive. A new report shows a heroin or opioid death once every 19 minutes. In 2014, overdose deaths in Massachusetts led the declaration of a public health emergency and the formation of an opioid task force. It put the addiction problem in the spotlight.

Karin Jeffers is the CEO of Clinical Support & Options in Northampton; “It cuts all socioeconomic ranges for people. It is not just a poor persons disease or a rural disease. It’s a disease that can affect anybody.” She said treatment begins with prevention, and prevention has to start young.

22News spoke with Ruth Ever of the Easthampton Healthy Youth Coalition. She told 22News there needs to be a shift in the way people think about substance abuse. “This isn’t a moral failing. This isn’t a lack of will. These are serious drugs and the biggest piece of it and why we do so much prevention work and why I am in a school is because we understand that when young people start they are much more likely to become addicted. The teenage brain is not the same as the adult brain,” explained Ever.

The report claims every dollar spent on prevention can save $4 on health care and $7 in the criminal justice system. The report questions whether access to addiction treatment, which was made a priority under the Affordable Care Act, will continue if it is repealed and replaced.

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