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Healing, Strengthening, and Advancing the Lives of LGBTQ People Seeking Recovery

Support the Petition to Give Addicts a Real Chance at Recovery

Published on November 24, 2014 By Cris Fiore Every day in this country, 119 people die from drug overdose, and another 6,748 are treated in emergency rooms. That averages out to an overdose-related hospitalization every 13 seconds and an overdose death every 13 minutes. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, outstripping traffic fatalities or gun homicides. And every year it gets worse. Substance abuse costs the U.S. economy over $600 billion annually. Effective treatment can dramatically reduce these costs. According to several conservative estimates, every dollar invested in addiction treatment programs yields a return of between $4 and $7 in reduced drug-related crime, criminal justice costs and theft. When savings related to health care are included, total savings can exceed costs by a ratio of 12 to 1. Major savings to the individual and to society also stem from fewer interpersonal conflicts, greater workplace productivity and fewer drug-related accidents, including overdoses and deaths. Many people mistakenly believe that addiction is a personal choice, that drug abusers lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop using drugs simply by choosing to change their behavior. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting takes more than good intentions or a strong will. In fact, because drugs change the brain in ways that foster compulsive drug abuse, quitting is difficult, even for those who are ready to do so. Through scientific advances, we know more about how drugs work in the brain than ever, and we also know that drug addiction can be successfully treated to help people stop abusing drugs and learn to lead productive lives. In 2012, fewer than 12 percent of the estimated 23.1 million Americans over the age of 12 who needed treatment for a drug or alcohol abuse problem received it. In too many cases, the treatment was insufficient and, therefore, ineffective. The relapse rate for addicts who have undergone only short-term treatment (30 days or less) is between 40 percent and 90 percent within the first 30 days after the rehab program, often with deadly consequences. My 24-year-old son, Anthony, died May 31, 2014, following a six-year battle with addiction that included three unsuccessful short-term treatment programs, each lasting fewer than 30 days, which was all our insurance would pay for. Research tells us that effective inpatient treatment leads to long-term sobriety and fewer relapses. Ninety-day residential drug rehab is suggested as the minimum length of time for effective treatment. In fact, a long-term stay at a drug rehab facility can decrease the risk of drug addiction relapse by up to 73 percent. That can mean the difference between addiction and recovery, or even life and death. The Affordable Care Act must be amended to provide for a minimum of 90 days of inpatient drug or alcohol treatment, up to a maximum of 180 days per year at a facility certified to provide such care by the secretary of health of the state in which it is located. With the help of MoveOn.org, I created a petition, “Anthony’s Act – To Give Addicts a Real Chance at Recovery,” seeking support for this amendment. As of this writing, the petition has garnered nearly 5,000 signatures, which is very gratifying but hardly enough to get the attention of our “do nothing” Congress. I urge everyone who believes that addicts should be given a real chance at recovery to go to this site: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/anthonys-act?source=c.em&r_by=2727571. Sign the petition and email it to at least five friends and ask them to sign it and forward it to five of their friends. If you have a Facebook page or if you tweet, please post the link and ask your online friends to sign it and forward it along. We are losing an entire generation. Let’s take action today to change that. Please support “Anthony’s Act.”

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