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There’s been much in the news recently about the overuse of opioid medications in the U.S. and those who have become physically dependent or addicted to pain medications as well as other substances such as alcohol. The gravest consequence of misusing opioids is accidental overdose, the risk of which has been fueled by drugs like Fentanyl that have made their way to the streets. Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine, and a mere 3 milligrams can kill an average-sized adult male.

People become addicted to substances for various reasons, and many individuals would choose to stop if they could. The addictive power of opioids and other substances can be strong – much stronger than individual willpower. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a form of treatment that combines counseling, behavioral therapies, and medication to help people achieve full, sustained recovery. Critics of MAT say people are trading one addiction for another, but those who have successfully continued to stay in recovery are not only alive but are thriving, productive citizens in our communities.

If you or someone you know is suffering from a substance use disorder, speak to your primary care provider or call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4537). The National Helpline is free, confidential and available 24/7, 365 days a year to offer information and support to people facing substance use problems.