The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

November 1, 2013

Treat addiction with prevention

Daily Item

---- — I would like to congratulate the board of directors of the Susquehanna Valley United Way for their insight in helping to prevent and treat those who are predisposed to addiction and those who have crossed the line into the disease of addiction.

Whether an individual is using drugs or alcohol on a regular basis, there is no difference both are addictions. Alcohol is a drug. We do not separate these addictions and need to give people the tools to deal with their addiction. The major difference was pointed out to all of us at a drug abuse conference several years ago at the Degenstein Library.

A young mother from Project Hope who had an addicted son on heroin stated "if I give alcohol to those in half of the room, over time 15 percent of those people will become addicted to alcohol versus if I give those in the other half of the room heroin to try, they will all become addicted."

Heroin usage is increasing in our area because those who got hooked on oxycodone and cannot afford the expense of this drug for a long period of time, then go on to the "cheaper alternative" heroin. Prescription drug abuse is increasing and we need to come down hard on those drugs being prescribed by physicians. We in the local community, justice system, medical licensing board, and the PA Medical Society must help prevent this malprescribing. Morphine type drugs do not work well in the treatment of neuropathic noncancer pain such as discogenic disease and there are other alternatives that are less addictive and work better.

The best way to treat addiction is prevention. Those who have a strong family history of addiction are more likely to inherit these genes and are at risk for addiction. The children with genetic predisposition to becoming addicted need to be watched closely, they are often raised in an environment of addiction and suffer from emotional, physical and most frequently notice the signs when the addict is in stage I or stage II. There is a cheaper way to decrease the number of addicts on the streets of our communities.

I admire the Northumberland County drug and alcohol committee members who are present in our schools trying to pick up and to prevent addiction in children as early as elementary school who have a genetic predisposition and pain in their childhood. Parents be involved in your child's life and read their social media messages, emails, Twitter accounts, and Facebook pages. Your job is to parent not to be your child's friend, but to parent them and protect them. We as a community must help treat this devastating and terminal disease.

John P. Pagana, M.D., F.A.A.F.P.,