NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – An average of five people die from a drug overdose in Tennessee every single day. More than 1,650 people died from an overdose last year, just more than 1,200 the year before.
More people are dying from overdoses, but Dr. Stephen Loyd says there is hope.
Dr. Loyd is the Medical Director for the Division of Substance Abuse Services with the state’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. He says programs offered through Neighborhood Health are making a real difference.
On Thursday, Dr. Loyd spoke at the Neighborhood Health Recognition Breakfast at Belmont University.
“My role here today is to talk about the role of medication in the treatment of people with opioid additions. Neighborhood Health has an outstanding program, that should probably be the model statewide and they’re doing excellent work,” said Dr. Loyd.
Neighborhood Health offers help for opioid addicts through its Mediation Assisted Treatment Program (SOS). The SOS program provides primary care, medication management, therapies and education for its patients.
The retention rate for the program is 80 percent, which is almost double the national average for similar programs.
The key to helping people overcome addictions is healthy relationships, says Dr. Loyd.
It’s something he knows first-hand. He’s 13 years clean from a prescription drug addiction.
“If you look at addiction, a lot of times in the throes of addictive disease, we become isolated, the drug is what we have a relationship with. And so recovery is about building other relationships, healthy relationships, getting out of relationships where you’re being used, abused or where drug use is the sole reason for the relationship,” explained Dr. Loyd.
“As we develop more healthy relationships, and we start to enjoy our lives, then the benefits we get out of lives is more than the benefit we get out of drugs and people slowly stop using. That’s why it’s so important that we come together as a community to support people with opioid abuse disorder.”
Dr. Loyd says while accessible rehabilitation programs are vital after addiction begins, total prevention is the goal. He says that starts with educating young people in schools and getting parents involved.
“If we can prevent a kid from using any type of drug before 18, the likelihood of developing an addition is dramatically reduced and so that is our total prevention goal, is to prevent that first time use or continued use before the age of 18.”
He added, “Parents absolutely have to have an open line of communication so their kids know how dangerous this is.”