Addiction is an illness is something we
can beat. If we give people the tools and support they need to overcome this
disease if we choose to free people from the stigma of addiction and recognize
this is the public health challenge it truly is we can help people to reclaim their
lives Governor Christie has really
demonstrated a strong commitment to substance use treatment services he’s gone out to actually meet with
individuals who have a substance use disorder has met with families has met
with treatment providers to get a greater understanding of of the disease
and how it impacts individuals. Even though individuals may know at the time that
you know the choices may not necessarily be the best for them it is a disease and should be treated as
such. Addiction is a chronic relapsing disease
which is characterized by compulsive behaviors and the inability to stop
using substances whether it be alcohol or other drugs.
Once the person starts taking a drug for a period of time changes in the brain
occur that have a significant effect on learning and memory and on really the
reward system that really controls our behaviors. And so they start not only
craving drugs but they have an inability to control the cravings and the
behaviors associated with those and they seek drug-seeking. And this leads to a
chronic pattern a relapsing pattern of drug use. Right now we have a spectrum of
treatments that are scientifically proven to be effective. These range from outpatient treatments
seeing an individual counselor or going to an outpatient program one more times a week, to a residential
treatment program or inpatient program for individuals with more severe
substance use. And also a variety of supports our recovery services for
individuals to keep them in a recovery state after they’ve been in treatment and either you know are drug free
or are in some maintenance type treatment. When I first got into the field about 30
years ago there was always an ongoing discussion the battle about which came
first the chicken or the egg. was the person depressed and they use drugs
where they anxious and they use drugs or did they use drugs and become depressed?
And what we have found over the years that these can be two independent
disorders. Often their issues such as anxiety or depression and these often
are occur because the person you know is really living a lifestyle and dealing
with issues that are very hard for them if they are someone who has a pattern of
chronic drug use. they’re going to have problems in their
family with their job they’re going to have all kinds of issues that are going
to cause anxiety or depression and therefore to recover you need to treat
both. Before we had medication-assisted
therapies everyone thought that our field was just
talk therapy and in fact some even called us voodoo medicine. But with the
advent of the pet scan which helps locate a different chemicals in the
brain the work through the NIH we were able to
determine that addiction is a brain disease and as such that puts more into
the mainstream with other chronic medical illnesses. As we know and as
evidence shows there are different formulations of medications such as methadone buprenorphine, buprenorphine
is also known as suboxone our subutex and then there’s naltrexone, which is
known as vivitrol it’s injectable form. So it’s only with ongoing treatment
and often very often medication-assisted treatment is important part of that and
the recovery supports that people can really have a good prognosis and recover
from drug use. The governor announced that we would
have a one-stop Center known as the interim managing entity
or the IME so that individuals would not have to call around from place to place
to place to try to find services that they needed rather they could call one
number that number is 1 844 276-2777 the numbers operational 24 hours a day seven
days a week including holidays and weekends. the IME is really designed to serve
individuals who are low income individuals who don’t have insurance at
all, or individuals who have Medicaid. For those individuals who have
private insurance if they happen to call the IME the IME will help them to
negotiate accessing services using their primary insurance carrier. So I think the governor really wants to
see that individuals who are impacted both directly and indirectly have the
supports and services and the resources that they need. This is the best way to
ensure that beyond the statistics that they become hopeful again, optimistic
again, happy again and productive members of
our society.

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