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Public Health
The opioid epidemic is considered the deadliest drug crisis in U.S. history. The Trump Administration recently declared a public health emergency to deal with the epidemic. In Nevada, opioid overdoses were the leading cause of drug-related deaths in 2015. According to the National Vital Statistics System, 619 Nevadans died of a drug overdose that year and 68% of those deaths were from opioids.In this series, Reno Public Radio’s health reporter Anh Gray tours a treatment facility, and talks with substance abuse experts, patients and others to get the scope of the problem and explore some solutions.

Losing A Daughter To Opioids: One Woman's Story

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Dani Tillman is a substance abuse counselor with The Life Change Center in Sparks. She spent her career helping other people battle addiction, but it became personal several years ago when her daughter, Brittany, was battling an opioid addiction. Tillman recalls the challenges Brittany faced trying to stay clean after relapse prevention treatment.

Using opioids causes the brain to release dopamine and encourage more drug use. Tillman says overcoming addiction is difficult, and can be especially challenging for young people like her daughter.

“The draw of the opiate and the way that it attaches to the receptors in the brain and the things that are happening up here along with the fact that they’re 10 to 24 years old and their brain is still developing," Tillman explains, "they just can’t battle it.”

About one person dies each day in Nevada from an opioid-related overdose. Dani Tillman currently advocates for Medication-Assisted Treatment, which combines behavioral therapy and mediction.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that it’s critical to expand access to evidence-based treatments to help people battling addiction. Effective treatments includes medication-assisted therapy (MAT). MAT uses medication like methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone in combination with counseling to treat opioid addiction.

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