Thursday, February 8, 2018

NEWS: Finding HOPE in the Opioid Crisis

By Abbey Logan

Photo Credit: Maggie Lefebvre
The Center for Humanistic Change came to Nazareth Area High School on Tuesday, February 6 to spread awareness about the dangers of addictive drugs, particularly regarding teenagers. The CHC’s social movement is referred to as HOPE, short for Heroin and Opioid Prevention Education. The lecture was presented by Kim Moyer, a Senior Prevention Specialist at the CHC. Since 1979, the center has been raising awareness publicly to schools, offices, and conventions.
Although drug abuse is a terrifying topic, the purpose of the presentation is to promote change, not to scare. Since the 1990s, opioid misuse, whether it be vicodin, oxycodone, or marijuana, has been on the rise. In fact, every nineteen minutes someone dies from overdose. Pennsylvania has the sixth highest overdose rate in the country, with thirteen lives taken every day.
Many times, friends and family of an addict ask why they are not able to just stop. An addict cannot just simply stop because it is an embedded habit, an intense craving, not a lack of willpower.
Another common question is why so many refer to drugs as an answer. Issues from mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, to medicine prescribed by doctors can lead to a life-altering addiction. Surprisingly, genetics may also play a role in addiction. If there is a history of drug abuse in one’s family, they are more susceptible to addiction. To add to the crisis, drugs have become so readily accessible to the public. Especially in younger crowds, drugs have become normalized in a way that increases the number of users substantially.
Behavioral signs of an addict include a new group of friends, isolation from family, and grade decline. Indication of withdrawal, or the “hangover” of drugs, includes flu or flu-like symptoms, such as chills, sweating, pain, hallucinations, and nausea. Lastly, suggestions of an overdose entail blue fingers or lips, gurgling sounds indicating that the main airways are blocked, vomiting, convulsions, and clammy skin.
The assembly presenters stressed that If you encounter someone in an overdose state, roll them on their side to prevent choking, call 911, stay with them, perform CPR if able, administer Narcan if available, and be completely honest with the first response team. There are no consequences for being found near the drugs or with those who abused them if these steps are followed.
The presentations of drug addiction from the Center for Humanistic Change, as well as other organizations, have allowed for public awareness and a drastic decrease in addictive drug users. In the future, the CHC’s goal is to help more people who are suffering from addiction and work to end addiction by treating mental disorders with therapy rather than through medication, diminishing over-the-counter accessibility, and introducing the conversation of drug dangers to a larger audience. Kim Moyer, member of the CHC, says her favorite part of her job is “meeting real people and knowing that [she’s] helped.”
If there is anyone who is dealing with an addiction, they can contact the Lehigh County Addiction Treatment Center at (610)-782-3555 or the Northampton County Addiction Treatment Center at (610)-829-4725.

Photo Credit: Maggie Lefebvre
Presenter Kim Moyer
Photo Credit: Maggie Lefebvre

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