Opioid-related overdoses have claimed thousands of lives across Massachusetts, New England and the nation. Governments, treatment specialists and doctors have formed committees, reformed policy and actively tried to reduce access to opioids in response.
But a recent report produced by a leading provider of addiction treatment, the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute, says the focus should be less on the specific drug and more on education targeted towards those predisposed to addiction.
Desirae Vasquez works at Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD) Prevention Works in Newton, which is under the umbrella of the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute. The institute’s latest report features research that Vasquez says proves the focus on the effect of a singular drug versus individual predilection towards general addiction is misguided.
The report shows that half of overdose survivors had other drugs in their system. The majority of respondents also had histories of addiction to other substances.
Vasquez and other addiction specialists believe that stronger education at an earlier age is an effective prevention measure. Another suggestion is installing specialists trained to identify youth who exhibit warning signs of susceptibility. Ultimately, Vasquez said addiction is the result of complex genetic, environmental and social factors that require more comprehensive responses rather than just limiting access to a single narcotic.
To hear the entire interview with Vasquez, click on the audio player above.