Opinion Social Justice OPINION: Addiction recovery does not end with rehab By Zach Reizes Posted on September 26, 2017 6 min read 0 0 1,190 A nurse prepares to administer Naloxone, a drug used to treat opioid overdoses in emergency situations. Source: Flickr Substance abuse and addiction in Ohio is a complicated and expensive issue. Many believe that jail and rehab are the only steps to recovery, but opinion writer Zach Reizes explains why this is not so. A new addiction recovery house will be opening in Athens in early 2018. Not to be confused with traditional rehabilitation programs, Serenity Grove will be a women’s facility designed for those who are coming out of rehabilitation and want to build the skills needed to live healthy, sober lives. Improving statewide resources that help addicts deal with the long-term impacts of substance abuse is imperative. The cost of drug treatment and criminal prosecution are high, as are those of recidivism and treatment for relapse. Relapse and recidivism are two issues that can be solved by strategic allocation of resources. Support systems can be weak for people leaving local correctional facilities or drug and alcohol treatment programs. Too often, those discharged from such facilities are forced back into situations that sparked or exacerbated their addiction in the first place. The continued risks do not stop there. Once an addict is clean, any relapse they experience has the chance to become deadly due to accidental overdoses. Accidental overdoses occur when a recovering addict takes drugs but fails to account for their own decreased drug tolerance. In 2015 alone, more than 4000 people accidentally overdosed in Ohio. The process of addiction and relapse costs taxpayers money. According to the Ohio Department of Health, the state is investing about one billion dollars annually to help local communities handle drug-related issues. Upon taking into consideration the costs of workers who are unable to pass drug tests and therefore get jobs, the economic burden of substance abuse is likely far higher. For addicts who are parents, this burden extends directly to their children. “Drug overdoses are associated with high direct and indirect costs. Unintentional fatal drug overdoses cost Ohioans $2 billion in 2012 in medical and work loss costs; while non-fatal, hospital-admitted drug poisonings cost an additional $39.1 million. The total cost equaled an average of $5.4 million each day in medical and work loss costs in Ohio.” – Ohio Department of Health, 2016 report Even before birth, substance abuse harms children and increases medical costs statewide. Consumption of alcohol during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome. The use of opioids while pregnant can cause neonatal abstinence syndrome. This makes supporting women in recovery all the more important. Substance abuse can impact women in particular ways. Women often have faster metabolic rates and a lower body mass index than men, which changes the rate at which drugs enter the blood system. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, women can face further complications during pregnancy and breastfeeding. In Ohio, however, the state is failing to address issues that plague those struggling with addiction. According to data from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, for every dollar spent on substance abuse, only two go toward prevention or treatment programs, which makes initiatives like the Serenity Grove so important for women in Southeast Ohio. By addressing the gap between rehab and sober living, Women for Recovery are meeting addicts where the state has failed to do so. Without the tools needed to live a sober lifestyle, addicts can and do often relapse. The Serenity Grove transitional living home will address a gap in statewide addiction treatment. Editor’s Note: Zach Reizes is currently fundraising for Women for Recovery, a 501c3 nonprofit based in Athens, Ohio. To support Women for Recovery, visit his donation page here or purchase tickets to its October 12th fundraiser.