Guest MINDSETTER™ Nardolillo: RI Deserves a Comprehensive Fix for the Opioid Epidemic
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. Some forecasts predict that opioids could kill nearly 500,000 Americans in the coming decade and by other measures, it could kill close to 650,000. It hits close to home, too: New England is the worst region in the country for overdose deaths, with a staggering rate of 24.6 per 100,000 people in 2015 alone.
In 2017, 314 Rhode Islanders – our family, friends, and neighbors – died from accidental overdose deaths, a shocking increase from 94 in 2011. This represents a 234% increase in just six years.
It is incumbent on our leaders to address this epidemic with thoughtful, coherent policy solutions.
How can we begin to tackle this massive problem? For one, by turning to our peers and studying successful policies. Our neighbor to the north, Vermont, has been a model in its actions toward reducing opioid addiction and putting forth effective treatment. Vermont also has a unique philosophy of treating opioid addicts as patients and not criminals.
It starts with a holistic approach. Vermont has created a “hub and spoke” method, where addiction patients are treated at the “hub” for the most intensive care. The hub can include the initial assessment, administration of methadone, or addiction specialists. Patients then move to the “spokes” as their conditions become more manageable. Primary care facilities, mental health services, and pain management clinics are examples of spokes. The spokes are used for ongoing treatment. It’s similar to other aspects of our healthcare system, where patients might see a primary care physician for an initial problem and later use the services of specialized outpatient centers. The hub and spoke model ensures that patients receive appropriate treatment in every step of the recovery process.
Together, these two components create a comprehensive treatment system with results to show. In 2015, Vermont was the only New England state below the national average for overdose deaths.
With our small size and dedicated healthcare resources, adopting a system like Vermont’s should be part of the solution. We must end the days of treating addicts as anything other than patients. Rhode Island can and should begin to implement a comprehensive solution for stopping this addiction epidemic and providing care to those who need it most.
As a funeral director, I have seen too many parents struggling to put words to the losses of their loved ones. Far too many of our children have passed too soon. As legislators, we can be the first step in saving lives, taking care of our neighbors, and ending the opioid epidemic.
Bobby Nardolillo is a Republican member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives. He is a candidate for the United States Senate.
Related Slideshow: GoLocal: Benchmark Poll, October 2017
Next year, in November of 2018, there will be a statewide general election for Governor and many other state offices. How likely is it that you will vote in this election?
Will you definitely be voting, will you probably be voting, are you 50-50...
Definitely be voting: 78%
Probably be voting: 13%
What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?
Jobs and economy: 21%
State budget: 9%
Corruption/Public integrity: .8%
Don’t know: .9%
Recently, a proposal has been made to permit the issuance of $81 million in bonds by the State to build a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox. If there was an election today on this issue, would you vote to approve or reject issuing $81 million in financing supported moral obligation bonds to build the stadium?
Net: Approve: 28%
Definitely approve: 15%
Probably approve: 14%
Net: Reject: 67%
Probably reject: 19%
Definitely reject: 48%
Don't know: 4%
The next question is about the total income of YOUR HOUSEHOLD for the PAST 12 MONTHS. Please include your income PLUS the income of all members living in your household (including cohabiting partners and armed forces members living at home).
$50,000 or less: 27%
More $50,000 but less than $75,000: 13%
More $75,000 but less than $100,000: 13%
More $100,000 but less than $150,000: 17%
$150,000 or more: 13%
Don't know/refused: 17%
What particular ethnic group or nationality - such as English, French, Italian, Irish, Latino, Jewish, African American, and so forth - do you consider yourself a part of or feel closest to?
Black or African American: 6%
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