Convenience has become a cornerstone of modern civilization, especially with the advent of the internet, or more recently, the smartphone; we can watch our favorite shows on the go, order food from the comfort of our home without even any human interaction, or in some cases, buy anything online just by telling a metallic cylinder on our nightstand to order it for us.
We put a lot of effort into making our every-day lives easier and making everything work quicker and more efficiently, and yet, 140 Americans are still lost every day to overdoses. The reason? It’s partly because of the 2.2 million Americans with an opioid use disorder, more than half aren’t receiving any treatment. As the number of deaths continues to increase, medical professionals and lawmakers are trying to figure out how to implement an idea that could potentially save countless lives and completely revolutionize the addiction treatment industry: instant access to treatment.
Why Does Treatment Take So Long?
In theory, on-demand treatment sounds simple: when someone in need asks for help with their substance abuse issues, help is immediately provided. That’s how true on-demand treatment works: assistance is quickly provided to inhibit cravings, stabilize the patient, and provide a long-term treatment plan. Now this all sounds great and there’s no doubt it would prevent a great number of deaths, but there are a few things standing in the way of this valuable treatment resource, namely:
- Availability: There are significantly more victims of substance abuse than there are counselors, centers, or resources to help them out. People seeking help usually find themselves with no one to turn to, as there is a shortage of professionals that can help and wait times are usually too long for them to get the care they need in time. As it currently stands, no city in the US offers all forms of treatment on-demand.
- Access: Even when options for treatment are available, they are not always easily accessible to everyone. Some people might lack a means of transportation, some might not have a means to get in touch with treatment centers, others may not even know that options are, indeed, available. Not everyone in need of help has access to, say, the internet, and they wouldn’t be able to find a treatment center in a part of town they don’t frequent.
- Finances: Treatment costs money and it isn’t always affordable. Insurance may sometimes cover part of it, but it doesn’t always cover everything, and with that, there’s the matter of coverage, as not everyone has great insurance coverage. And even with good coverage, one might have to work their way through quite a lot of red tape before benefiting from their insurance, and on-demand treatment isn’t very effective if it isn’t treated as a matter of urgency.
- Stigma: As with other issues like mental health issues, substance abuse often carries a certain stigma with it. Even in an idyllic scenario where on-demand treatment was readily available for everyone, some might choose to not seek out help for fear of admitting they have an addiction and facing shame and judgment.
The Help You Need, When You Need It
It isn’t easy to ask for help, but when one musters the courage to do it, help should immediately be available. Patience on the part of the victim isn’t very realistic; one could seek help one minute and completely give up hope the next, especially when hit with the barriers that currently prevent quick treatment. Any delay is often deadly and if we want to reduce the number of overdose deaths, drastic measures need to be taken in order to make on-demand treatment a reality.