Opioid Abuse and 12 Step Programs

Opioid abuse in Nashville

Unfortunately, Nashville and the Tennessee state have had serious opioid problems for the past few decades, but in recent years these problems have been getting worse.  Between 2005 and 2019, the total number of opioids which were seen by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation increased by a massive 3224 to 7408.  Fentanyl and heroin rates were particularly high during this time.

In Nashville’s Davidson County, in 2002 there was an average number of 4.1 opioid overdose deaths per 100,000 people.  By 2018, numbers of people dying from opioids rose to 27.28 deaths per 100,000 people.  Much of this can be attributed to the rise in the use of fentanyl in the county, as fentanyl is a drug which tends to have very high rates of overdose.

The coronavirus pandemic is only making things worse.  In 2020, Nashville saw a 32% increase in the numbers of people dying from drug overdoses.  80% of these overdoses showed traces of fentanyl in their blood stream.

While it would be great if everyone affected by problems such as these was able to go to Opiate Detox Nashville, this might not be possible currently.  While insurance often means that those who would otherwise have been unable to afford going to Opiate Detox Nashville, there are some cases where a person is in gainful employment but is not able to afford treatment.  People like this may find that they are able to access a scholarship program, where some of the cost of the Opiate Detox Nashville are provided by a charity.

Use of 12-step programs for opioid addiction

One manner of addressing the drug epidemic is by encouraging the use of the 12-step program.  The 12-step program, which was first used in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), is a plan which was developed to help people overcome compulsions and addictions.  The premise of the 12-step model is that people can assist people in achieving and maintain abstinence from substances, including opioids, but that healing also includes the surrender to a higher power. 

The start of the 12-step program

AA started in 1938, when its founder, Bill Wilson, wrote down his ideas which he had been developing through his experiences with alcoholism.  He wrote about the benefits of alcoholics sharing their stories between each other.

Wilson wrote the 12-step program in a book which is now known as the Big Book.  The steps were designed by synthesizing concepts from different teachings that he had come across, including a six-step program which was developed by a group known as the Oxford Group.

The Big Book was first written as a guide for those who were not able to attend AA meetings, but it went on to become a model for everyone in the program.  It has now been adopted as a model for different addiction peer-support and self-help programs which are designed to help behavioral change.

12 step practice

The premise of the 12 steps is that people may help each other maintain abstinence from substances to which they are addicted.  They may do this through meetings where they share their experiences of addiction to substances with each other, and support each other to maintain abstinence.

It has been shown in research that those who abstain from all substances – as suggested by the 12-step model – have far better mental health outcomes than those who choose not to abstain.  The 12-step model provides people with a framework with which they can surrender to their addiction, and move towards new patterns.

In effect, the program gives people an opportunity to:

  • Recognize that their addiction is a problem, and admit it
  • Surrender to the idea that addiction exists and attempt to gain control through a higher power
  • Observe behaviors that were part of addiction
  • Build self-esteem by seeing one’s positive capabilities
  • Increase compassion, people who have been affected by addiction

Many thousands of people have found relief from their addiction problems by attending 12-step meetings and going through the 12-steps.  For many people, this is enough to attain abstinence from drugs and keep it, however, if a person has significant trauma, then it may be useful to additionally seek the service of a trained professional who is able to work on any trauma that you may have, either before the addiction occurred, or trauma that has been gained through addiction. 

Most addiction professionals consider this an important part of the recovery process, as in most cases there is a trauma which is related to addiction which should be addressed.