Consolidated Tribal Health Project
Healthy People. Healthy Families. Healthy Community.


Behavioral Health Update


Addiction is a worldwide problem that affects many different people, their families, and communities. Addiction is a chronic disease, like diabetes or heart disease, meaning there is no cure. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction as “a chronic brain disease in which a person regularly finds and uses drugs, or regularly does something (such as gambling) despite the negative things that can happen…”

  • Opiate painkillers (OxyContin, Demerol, Codeine, etc.) can be very dangerous depending on the individual, the amount and the length of time taken as to the severity of the danger. One thing is for sure, opiate painkillers can kill you.
  • Of the 20.5 million Americans 12 and older that had a substance use disorder in 2015, 2 million had the disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 591,000 had the disorder involving heroin.
  • Drug overdose was the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic with more than twice the accidental deaths due to overdose compared heroin death due to overdose
  • 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose related to heroin.
  • Four in five new heroin users started out misusing prescription painkillers.

One of scariest statistics is that people including family members share the prescriptions pain relievers unaware of the dangers. Most teens who misuse prescription pain killers ae given to them for free by a friend or relative.



Treatment using safe and helpful methods provided by trained drug and alcohol clinicians can lead to a healthy, positive way of life. This healthy way of life is referred to as recovery. Treatment can occur in several different places and settings depending on the severity of the addiction which also will be assessed by a professional clinician. Seeking and wanting help is the first important step to recovery. Participation in treatment and recovery is shown to improve outcomes. Because addiction is a chronic disease, treatment will be ongoing.


Once the addicted person has a period of abstinence and is working on changing the behaviors and working toward living a better quality of life, this is known as recovery. It is said regular attendance to support meetings along with other tools and skills learned it treatment provides the greatest opportunity of going on to live a healthy, productive life. Recovery is a lifelong journey.

Torrey Douglass