Waushara County Health News

Addiction is a disease, not just a bad choice


The American Medical Association (AMA) recog-nized alcoholism as a disease in 1956.

If one uses the term addiction that alone covers a wide range of topics such as alcohol, prescription drugs, recreational drugs, and eating disorders to name the most common.

The most frequent con-versations occurring today are around the opioid crisis. This is a serious public health issue as deaths from opioid abuse have surpassed deaths from vehicle crashes.

In Waushara County there were 26 hospital encounters related to opioids in 2015, 24 in 2016, with an increase to 35 in 2017. The State of Wisconsin now informs health departments of suspected opioid overdoses based on data from ambulance runs. In 2018, Waushara County averaged one suspected opioid overdose per month. The November statistics indicated year to date statistics for Waushara County to be 13 suspected opioid overdose incidents compared to 4,545 in the entire state of Wisconsin for the same time period. If the county shows a spike in activity, the State Office of Informatics will notify the local health department.

First and foremost, remember this is a disease, so people need to continue to offer assistance in any way they can. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), has a five point strategy for combating opioids.

First, people must have better addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery services. Waushara County has education programs in the schools, counseling programs, and has recently developed peer recovery programs. In collaboration with other county partners is increasing Medication Assisted Treatment services. People have facilitated Aids Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW), in a public training on Narcan that if given soon enough to an overdose victim increase survival rates.

Secondly, SAMHSA sug-gests better data. There is some data shown in this article; the health department knows it is a problem everywhere, but do not have a complete set of statistics.

Third, people need to work on better pain management.

Fourth, use of Narcan and overdose reversing drugs. These are present both in public emergency response and available for private citizens to obtain.

Fifth, and the last strategy, is more research. These complex problems take a combined effort, resources and the right attitude to combat.

Ask yourself: what more can I do?