Opioid abuse opinion

Royal Purple Staff, Staff Writer

Opioid abuse cases and deaths related to drugs such as methamphetamines, heroin and cocaine have been on the rise since 2000, and until a treatment facility not ran by local authorities is opened, that reality is unlikely to change.

Data publically available through the Wisconsin Department of Health Services shows an overall, steady increase in opiate-related deaths statewide over the last 16 years. The number of deaths each year statewide has risen from 111 deaths in 2000 to reach 827 total deaths in 2016.

Of those 827 opiate-related deaths statewide in 2016, 14 of those occurred in Walworth county, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

And while the number of opiate-related deaths has steadily risen statewide, certain counties remain spare with treatment options for those affected.

Walworth county does not have a methadone or suboxone clinic, with the nearest such facilities located in Waukesha, Milwaukee or Madison. In the crucial minutes after an overdose has begun to kick in, driving nearly an hour will mean it’s too late.

Until Walworth County sees the opening of a suboxone treatment facility, it’s unlikely for the number to opioid-abuse cases to decrease significantly because users struggling with addiction are unlikely to come forward if they fear being punished for taking that step.  

Local authorities have life-saving treatments at their disposal; however, individuals struggling with addiction might be reluctant to seek treatment help directly through police out of fear of being punished for drug use.

If individuals battling drug addiction don’t come forward for help, then incidents such as the man who died of a heroin overdose on the UW-Whitewater campus Sept. 2 could continue to occur.

Further discouraging these individuals could be the reality that they have to pay for drug treatments out of their own pocket, which could lead to many users choosing to not seek help.

Emergency outpatient detoxification treatment ranges from $1,000 to $1,500 in total, according to Addiction Center, a referral service that provides information about addiction treatment.

The average cost for one full year of methadone maintenance treatment is approximately $4,700 per patient, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This source estimates that methadone treatment costs patients at least $126 per week.

Not all insurance companies cover treatment for drug addiction, which leaves some users strapped for the funds to properly seek help.

Residents of Walworth county should work together to create and sign a petition advocating for a suboxone clinic to be funded by government budgets and opened in the area, or the number of opiate-related deaths each year will only continue to rise.