SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) - Opioid addiction is a problem that many Americans don’t have an answer for.
This month, federal authorities claimed one of the largest fentanyl seizures in U.S. history-- 97 pounds representing millions of lethal doses --from a house in San Diego.
The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed three adults found dead in a Vista home a few weeks prior to the bust were killed by fentanyl overdoses.
Dr. Brian Couey, Clinical Director for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, joined News 8’s Heather Myers Wednesday to talk about the opioid epidemic and how the foundation is working tirelessly to fight it.
A recent collaborative study between the foundation and the University of Maryland suggests that people have varying levels of susceptibility to opioid addiction and misuse. The research claims that mental health, substance abuse history and family history are all considerable factors.
“We can always look at a drug and vilify it… but the problem is really addiction,” Dr. Couey said. “How do we treat addiction? How do we identify people that are most vulnerable and tailor treatment approaches to mitigate potential problem these people can experience?”
As the epidemic grows, the chances of someone you know experience opioid addiction or misuse grows. But the signs of addiction can be less obvious compared to other illicit substances.
Signs of potential misuse, according to Dr. Couey, include slowed motor movements and suspicious behavior like dishonesty.
The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is giving addiction patients hope with progressive, evidence-based approaches.
“We also really want to train physicians on how to monitor and identify substance use issues in their patients and to be more judicious when prescribing people with vulnerabilities,” Dr, Couey said.
He added that physicians only get an average of 7 to 14 hours of training in addiction over the course of their entire medical training curriculum, so the foundation has launched a summer institute for medical students to help them get ahead of the curve.