It’s no secret that America is ensnared in a national opioid epidemic that is exacting a devastating toll on families and communities. We’ve all read the tragic headlines, watched the videos or heard radio news reports of deaths resulting from a lethal dose of heroin and/or other opioids.
Lost in the shuffle, it seems, is the one thing that will absolutely bring healing and wellness to our families and communities — hope. Revered South African theologian, human rights activist and Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu once said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”
Under Gov. John R. Kasich’s leadership, Ohio has put into action one of the nation’s most aggressive and comprehensive strategies for fighting addiction and preventing overdose deaths. We are making progress — deaths attributed to prescription painkillers and heroin reached new lows last year — but much work remains. We face new challenges from even more dangerous substances like fentanyl and street drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine that are laced with opioids.
Despite the shroud of “darkness,” there is, indeed, hope. Tens of thousands of Ohioans in recovery from a substance use disorder are living proof that treatment works; people recover. The state of Ohio is illuminating the way to wellness through TakeChargeOhio.org — an online resource that promotes medication safety, self-screening tools, warning signs and, most importantly, links on how and where to get help for self of a loved one.
In Ohio, we believe there are multiple pathways to recovery and wellness and people should have access to all of them. We know that treatment works and that there is no “one size fits all” approach. It is essential that Ohioans are aware of all of the different treatments available so they can work with their provider and select the approach that best addresses their needs and preferences. Various forms of counselling are very helpful, and when combined with appropriate medication treatments the results are even better. Support groups and faith-based approaches are also a very important part of a recovery process for many individuals.
The only way to discover the best pathway forward is to take that first step, to Take Charge of your recovery and pathway to wellness. Every journey of a million miles begins with a single step. I encourage you to shut out the darkness, follow the light and discover the hope can be found through addiction treatment and recovery. With persistence, recovery is not only possible, it is likely.
Visit the “Get Help” section of the TakeChargeOhio.org website for valuable aids, including a searchable database of community treatment resources, that will help guide you or a loved one on the pathway to a healthier, brighter, drug-free future.
Hope is just a click away.
Mark Hurst, M.D. is the director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services