The Merrimack Valley YMCA, in association with the Lawrence Methuen Community Coalition (LMCC), presented “The Biology of Addiction and What You Can Do About It” on Wednesday, October 18th. The event was held at the Andover/North Andover YMCA at 165 Haverhill Street in Andover and was free and open to the public.
Deanna Cruz, Director of Substance Abuse Prevention and Education Services at the LMCC offered a magnificent presentation covering the science behind drug addiction, dispelling the stigma, the social and psychological impact the opioid crisis is having on families and the community, and what you can do to keep your family safe.
Dr. Cruz said that this epidemic started when doctors began prescribing pain killers so freely. She checked on medical records for the number of pills prescribed from April through June of this year in Essex County and discovered that 4 million pills were prescribed. During the same period, in Massachusetts there were 37 million pills prescribed by doctors.
We all have been to a dentist or had minor surgery and were sent home with a prescription for pain killers “just in case we need it,” she said.
Another problem is when there are different doctors prescribing for one patient with no knowledge of the others who may have been given those medications to the patient.
Dr. Cruz’s explanation was in simple terms and the audience was able to have a better understanding of how the brain functions and assimilates not only drugs but also human behaviors.
By comparing how humans get accustomed to a routine or habit that is difficult to change or get rid of, so are drugs – naturally, on a more dangerous scale and difficult to brake.
She also gave hope to those who may be suffering with a member of the family going through that experience. It’s not impossible to stop and a very vital component is the desire to quit from the person being affected.
To everyone’s surprise, the highest rate of addition is within white, middle age working men. But, whatever we do, we should not blame the victim because some people are more prone than others to become and addict and to relapse.
An open discussion and question and answer session followed the presentation.
To the question if methadone is addictive, Dr. Cruz explained that it is not, but it is habit-forming. That’s why patients should be treated for depression at the same time because depression can lead them to a relapse.
More than just a place to work out, the Merrimack Valley YMCA offers programs and services to make healthier lives achievable for everyone. As the region struggles with the opioid epidemic, this event was designed to offer information and education to empower the community. “The Andover/North Andover YMCA is proud to be an asset to the community we serve by providing the resources to educate families about issues that affect the wellness of all,” said Andover/North Andover YMCA Executive Director, Alex Turek.