There are fewer than 84,000 residents in the city of Chino, California, but like the rest of the country, this area struggles with opioid addiction and overdose.1 However, San Bernardino County, which is home to Chino and several other small cities, is pioneering different approaches to opioid addiction treatment.
The county reportedly experienced 36 opioid overdose deaths in 2016, yet at the same time, there were 1,520,578 prescriptions for opioid painkillers in just this one Southern Californian county.2 Residents of Chino and surrounding cities appear to be at a high risk of abusing narcotics because these prescription drugs are widely available.
The county created the California Opioid Overdose Surveillance Dashboard, which keeps track of addiction and overdose statistics, and helps with education and prevention programs to reduce residents’ risk of abusing these drugs once they have been prescribed.2 In 2013-2014, 1,576 people entered treatment in the county to overcome opioid addiction and abuse; this was more than were treated for alcohol abuse, but less than those treated for meth addiction, which continues to ravage the area.3
There are several effective approaches to treating addiction to opioid drugs, starting with medication-assisted treatment (MAT) like buprenorphine, and combining that with regular therapy sessions to change behaviors. Since Chino and San Bernardino County are already bucking the trend of opioid abuse, their programs may be a model for other areas of the country.
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