To say that 2016 was an eventful year would be a huge understatement. It was a year of action and a year of great change not just for the country but also for addiction treatment and recovery. From major policy changes in local and federal government to the many voices that got louder and louder in an effort to eliminate the stigma of mental health and addiction and right down to the inspirational stories of the people we know and love in our communities – a lot has happened. Through the good, the bad, and the ugly we thought it would be a great way to commemorate our year by looking back at all that we learned and accomplished.
Looking Back at 2016: The Year in Addiction Treatment and Recovery
Prince Dies Due to Fentanyl Overdose
Arguably the most talked about overdose story of the year, the world was devastated by the loss of music legend, Prince. The reason this story was so huge was not just because he was a celebrity but because it stoked up a necessary conversation about Fentanyl and the part that it played in driving the opioid epidemic. The nation saw an unprecedented surge in overdoses in 2016, most that were directly related to fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is usually prescribed to patients with severe pain. It’s 80 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and up to 50 times more potent than heroin.
Drug and Alcohol Addiction Has Stronger Presence in the Media
From TV series to celebrities to controversial PSA’s during the Superbowl, addiction had more than five minutes of fame this year. Whether or not it has been presented in the best way to prevent drug use and overdose while not perpetuating the stigma of addiction still remains a hot button issue. It’s our hope that we are taking baby steps that will lead to great strides in eliminating the stigma of mental health and addiction.
Obama’s $1.1B Opioid Action Plan
As part of a new package of initiatives to expand addiction treatment services, Obama announced a plan that will be implemented over a two-year span. The plan is to increase access to addiction treatment, help those in treatment to complete their programs, and give them the tools they need to sustain recovery. In addition, the plan outlines that treatment will be made more affordable and will focus also on prevention programs and enforcement measures.
CDC Urges Doctors: Stop Prescribing Opioids
New guidelines were released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that encourage doctors to avoid prescribing opioids to their patients and instead offer treatment alternatives such as physical therapy or non-addictive painkillers.
FDA Gets More Strict With Opioid Label Warnings
The FDA announced that it’s making it a requirement for prescription opioids to now have warning labels on the bottles. The requirements apply to IR (immediate release) opioids and will advise patients on the dangers of combining conflicting medications as well as the effects of prescription pill abuse.
Macklemore Releases New Song and Documentary About Addiction Treatment
After a “historic” appearance on President Obama’s weekly address in May 2016, Macklemore released a documentary entitled “Prescription for Change: Ending America’s Opioid Crisis” on MTV. The documentary really touched on addiction as a disease and mentioned the importance of drug addiction treatment programs like inpatient drug treatment, intensive outpatient drug treatment as well as heroin detox and addiction support groups.
Additionally, Macklemore released a song called “Drug Dealer” that showed the hellish reality of opiate abuse and withdrawal.
Opioid Epidemic a Hot Button Issue During Election Season
Perhaps more than any other election season, heroin and the effects that it’s had on our country were a greatly discussed topic. From being mentioned during the debates to each candidate talking openly about their personal experiences with addiction, it was nice to see such an important issue get some time in the spotlight.
Facing Addiction: An Unprecedented Report on Addiction in America
As his first major decision as Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murphy issued a report on addiction called Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. It was the first ever report of it’s kind and it aims to address the addiction crisis. It’s been compared to the famous 1964 Surgeon General’s report on the dangers of tobacco.
More Celebrities Speak Up About Mental Health and Addiction
In 2016, we saw more celebrities and people in the media advocating for mental health, addiction, and recovery. Most notably, Kristen Bell spoke out on her experience with husband, Dax Shepherd’s struggle with addiction and how she supported him through an incredibly difficult time in their lives. Demi Lovato, who celebrated her fourth year of sobriety this year, spoke about the stigma of mental health and addiction at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. It even went as far as the White House when Allison Janney (of CBS’s sitcom, Mom) was called to speak at an event called Champions of Change, which honored ten notable people who were making strides in advancing the prevention, treatment, and recovery of addiction.
Naloxone Becomes More Available – and Stokes Controversy
Another hot button topic this year was Naloxone, the life-saving opioid overdose reversal medication that saved countless lives. Despite the controversy, it’s surge in availability could not have come at a better time. This year, as previously mentioned, the country saw a surge of opioid overdoses (some even broadcasted via social media) which only made clear the need for tools like Naloxone.