Heroin and opiates were the second most commonly cited primary substance of abuse by those admitted to treatment in Newport in 2014, followed by marijuana and then cocaine and other illicit drugs. High school students in Newport used marijuana and misused prescription drugs at higher rates than state averages between 2013 and 2014 as well. Approximately 68.8 percent of Newport high schoolers reported past-month marijuana use versus a state average of 60.8 percent while 60.3 percent of high school students in Newport misused prescription drugs as compared to a state average of 55.7 percent.
Rhode Island tops the list for abuse of marijuana and illicit drugs, ranking number one in both of these categories in the United States, the Providence Journal publishes. Rhode Island also ranks fifth in the nation for drug problems and overdose deaths per capita, the Cranston Patch reports. In 2016, there were 326 drug overdose deaths in Rhode Island, over half (57 percent) of which involved the powerful and potent synthetic opioid fentanyl, per the Newport Mercury.
In Newport, per the County Health Rankings, 33 people died from a drug overdose between 2012 and 2014. This equates to a drug overdose mortality rate range of between 14.1 and 16.0 per 100,000 Newport residents in 2014, which was lower than the state average of 23.4 per 100,000 population, County Health Rankings further publishes.
In general, the Behavioral Health Barometer: Rhode Island, 2015 reports that Rhode Islanders struggle with alcohol abuse and addiction, illicit drug abuse and addiction, and serious mental illness (SMI) at rates higher than national averages suggest. Approximately 7.7 percent of Rhode Island residents battled alcohol abuse or addiction per year between 2013 and 2014 compared to a 6.5 percent national rate while 3.4 percent of Rhode Islanders struggled with illicit drug use or addiction versus 2.6 percent of the national population. In addition, 4.8 percent of Rhode Island adults suffered from SMI in comparison to 4.2 percent nationally.
Behavioral Health Treatment for Newport Residents
To find mental health and addiction treatment services in Newport, Rhode Island, residents can use the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator. Individuals can plug in their zip code and the type of treatment desired, and find results.
In general, there are two types of treatment programs in and around Newport: public and private. Public programs are typically funded by federal and state monies and open to individuals in need who have financial limitations. These programs are managed and overseen by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and specifically by the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH). Public substance abuse and mental health treatment services are contracted through licensed providers in Rhode Island, a list of which can be found here. BHDDH also provides a listing of crisis resources and local emergency contact information.
Private behavioral health services are often more comprehensive and have services that may be more readily and immediately available than public programs that are generally first-come, first-serve, and limited as to the amount of people they can treat at a time. Private programs have a fee-for-service arrangement and often take health insurance to offset the cost.
Behavioral healthcare services may include:
- Assessments and evaluations
- Crisis services
- Preventative measures
- Intervention services
- Outpatient treatment
- Integrated mental healthcare
- Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs)
- Residential treatment
- Transitional and sober living arrangements
- Relapse prevention and aftercare services
- Peer recovery services
- Community-based programs
- Medication management
Tackling the Opioid Epidemic in Rhode Island
Governor Raimondo of Rhode Island has declared opioid abuse and overdose a public health crisis, and in 2015, he founded an Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force. The task force established Rhode Island’s Strategic Plan on Addiction and Overdose, which outlines four key strategies: prevention, rescue, treatment, and recovery. In July 2017, an executive order was released by the governor to increase resources and expand on the action plan.
The task force has a website, PreventOverdoseRI, to provide resources for Rhode Islanders on how to prevent opioid overdose, and it also hosts a support line. Rhode Island also has a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) set up to help prescribers keep track of the prescription of controlled substances and therefore be better able to recognize potential medication diversion and misuse. Opioids prescriptions are time-limited, and the 2017 executive order calls for increased public and prescriber education on these powerful prescription drugs as well as more resources for properly disposing of unused medications, including more drug take-back days and drop-off locations.
A not-for-profit organization, NOPE RI (Naloxone and Overdose Prevention Education Program of Rhode Island), reports that prescription opioids are involved in three-quarters of all overdose deaths in Rhode Island and alcohol is a factor in a quarter of them. NOPE RI provides information and resources on overdose prevention. The Newport Substance Abuse Prevention Task Force works to provide local resources to Newport residents.
Naloxone (Narcan) is an opioid antagonist drug that is commonly used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. In Rhode Island, naloxone is available at all Walgreens pharmacies and many other pharmacies without a prescription.
NOPE RI provides an interactive map with locations where friends and family members can obtain this potentially life-saving medication. The cost is covered by Medicaid and also likely by health insurance. Increased access to this rescue medication and training for first responders and community leaders is part of the action plan.
The action plan calls for an integrated approach that involves medical providers, the criminal justice system (when necessary), treatment providers, and community members to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working together toward recovery. Rhode Islanders are to have increased access to medications, such as methadone and buprenorphine, to manage opioid addiction, and comprehensive detox services and treatment programs that include relapse prevention and recovery support services.
Rhode Island also has several drug courts in operation that serve to help people who have been arrested for a drug-related (nonviolent) crime get into a treatment program, often in exchange for a lesser sentence upon completion. The 2017 executive order also orders that law enforcement officials strive to implement a pre-arrest drug diversion program.
RIDOH hosts a recovery helpline and other resources to help Rhode Islanders facilitate and sustain recovery. Recovery support is important, and community-based programs work to maintain recovery and connect individuals with peer support resources.
The 12-Step peer support program, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in Rhode Island offers local information on meeting details. Survivors of an overdose are also matched with a peer recovery coach as soon as possible, often straight out of emergency departments in Rhode Island.
Addiction is a disease. With proper care and commitment, Rhode Island individuals and their families can leave it in the past and sustain a long and healthy recovery.