A Message to Those Affected by the Opioid Crisis

This blog post is authored by Mary H. Beck, LMSW, CAI, President & CEO of The Council on Recovery

Most of us are well aware of the opioid crisis facing our communities. We read the grave statistics about addiction and overdose deaths experienced by so many. Impassioned advocates call us to action, treatment specialists inform us on the most cutting-edge practices, legislators pass laws and allocate financial resources to combat this public health emergency. All of this is vitally important.

Yet we are facing a parallel crisis, which is tearing apart families and leaving people in severe distress – a crisis to which our communities are often blind: the trauma and grief experienced by family and friends of those struggling with addiction or who are trying to live in the wake of an overdose death.

Our loved ones die – it is a sad, painful truth. For years, many of us live in fear of this truth – knowing that when someone we love so deeply is suffering from a chronic illness, death may be the outcome. We cherish the moments of reprieve and hope for recovery. At other times, we are doing everything in our power to save them – we suffer in silence once they are gone.

This is true whether your loved one dies from cancer, heart failure, brain disease, and yes, addiction too. If you are feeling the pain of a loved one’s substance abuse or their death, you are not alone. Over 100,000 people have died of a drug overdose in the past year alone – leaving spouses, parents, siblings, and friends behind.

How did we get here?

Americans take 80 percent of all prescription painkillers in the world. New reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Houston High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area confirm that drug overdoses have surged since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, both in Houston and nationwide. The sharpest increases were deaths involving opioids, primarily illicitly manufactured fentanyl. In the last year, fentanyl related deaths in Houston increased by 40%.

opioid crisis image

The extremity of this surge is a cause for grave concern for our team, but it only strengthens our resolve to partner with local leaders and community partners to tackle this issue comprehensively and systemically. This takes a multi-pronged approach – focused on education and awareness, providing intervention and treatment, opening doors to recovery, and when necessary supporting family and friends in their grief.

If you are one of the millions watching a loved one’s addiction spiral out of control, or if you have already lost a loved one due to an overdose, you deserve the same compassion and support others receive when they are grieving.  You need a place to turn, where your strength and courage are honored, while your grief and emotions are nurtured. The Council on Recovery is that place – a place to start when you don’t know where to turn and a place to heal.

If you, a loved one, or a client/patient is struggling with opioid use, contact us today, and we can get them the help they need. For more information on our opioid use services, download our flyer.

Senate Passes Broad Opioid Package to Address National Crisis

Senate passes opioid package

The Council on Recovery applauds the U.S. Senate’s passage of the final version of a sweeping opioids package Wednesday. Passed with rare bipartisan support by a vote of 98-1, the bill will be sent it to the White House for expected signature.

The bill represents Congressional response to the opioid epidemic, a growing public health crisis that resulted in 72,000 drug-overdose deaths last year. The House of Representatives passed the bill last week. It combines dozens of smaller proposals, from both sides of the aisle, that affect every federal agency. The bill is aimed at addressing different aspects of the opioid crisis, including prevention, treatment and recovery.

Major Provisions

Among major provisions, the legislation creates a grant program for comprehensive recovery centers that include housing and job training, as well as mental and physical health care. It also increases access to medication-assisted treatment to help people with substance abuse disorders safely detox from the opioids.

Another portion of the bill changes a prohibition that limited Medicaid from covering patients with substance abuse disorders who were receiving treatment in a mental health facility with more than 16 beds. The bill lifts that rule to allow for 30 days of residential treatment coverage.

The bill also gives Medicare beneficiaries more information on alternative pain treatments, and expands treatment options for enrollees who are addicted to opioids.

Funding in the Bill

Congress has appropriated $8.5 billion this year for opioid-related programs, but has not guaranteed funding for subsequent years. Some members of Congress have proposed committing at least $100 billion over ten years to fight the opioid epidemic.

The Council on Recovery

The Council on Recovery is in the vanguard of local efforts to stem the opioid epidemic with a broad array of prevention, education, treatment, and recovery programs. The Council also recently hosted the 2018 Houston Opioid Summit. For more information about our services, contact us today.

2018 Houston Opioid Summit Forges Awareness & Solutions

Opioid Summit Audience view 1For two full days, July 26th and 27th, more than 225 people packed the conference rooms and other venues at The Council on Recovery for the 2018 Houston Opioid Summit. In keynote addresses, panel discussions, breakout sessions, round-table discussions, and informal networking, participants gained new insights and awareness of the opioid epidemic. Representing the medical, treatment, recovery, legal, law enforcement, academic, and media sectors, Opioid Summit attendees also discussed viable and immediately actionable solutions for dealing with the crisis.

As The Council’s inaugural Opioid Summit and the first to bring together all of the major stakeholders currently battling the crisis, the Summit provided a broad range of presentations from experts in their fields. Topics included: An Overview of the Crisis in Houston; The Role of the Faith Based Community; Collaboration for Opioid Prevention; Advocacy; Therapeutic Treatment Courts; Medication Assisted Treatment; Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs’ Impact; Media’s Role & Responsibility in the Crisis; and the Impact of Addiction on Mothers & Children.

In a special closing session Friday afternoon, a full auditorium at The Council’s Hamill Foundation Conference Center heard the personal perspectives of three people whose lives were forever touched by the opioid crisis. Moderated by Khambrel Marshall, from the Opioid Summit’s media partner KPRC Channel 2, Maureen Wittels and Jim Hood told of losing their respective sons to opioid overdose. Ex-NFL star Randy Grimes shared about his 20-year opioid addiction and nine years of sobriety. The poignant discussion brought home the personal tragedy and suffering, but also provided a message of hope that Opioid Summit participants could take with them as they work together to end the scourge.

Though speaker after speaker at the Opioid Summit alluded to the prospects of stopping the opioid epidemic, most agreed it would be a long, hard battle. The Council on Recovery remains committed to leading that battle with prevention, education, treatment, and recovery services. Future Opioid Summits to be hosted by The Council will meet the opioid epidemic where it is and will again draw together the many sectors to create understanding and awareness, and take action to save lives.