Last week, President Obama declared that this Sunday would be the first day of the Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week as another of the recent measure to reduce heroin and opioid epidemic that affects Americans by education and law enforcement.
The statement was made during an official proclamation by Barack Obama, as a reaffirmation of his continuous pledge to educate Americans and raise awareness among them about substance abuse and addiction. The president encourages people to keep track of the ceremonies and activities that are programmed for this week. The Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week will start Sunday, September 18 to September 24, 2016.
The White House said that the cabinet members and federal agencies would be working to approach the epidemic across the United States.
Raising awareness about the outbreak is key
The abuse of and addiction to opioids as heroin, morphine and painkillers is an increasing problem that affects the economy, health and the social environment of around 26.4 and 36 million people worldwide. In America, it is believed that around 2.1 million people are dealing with the abuse of these substances related to prescription of opioid painkiller. The consequences are devastating. In the US, the number of unintentional overdose death have more than quadrupled since 1999.
Deaths from an overdose, just considering painkillers and heroin, in the United States are more than those caused by traffic accidents. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the number of drug overdose deaths were 28,000 in 2014, the highest ever recorded. At what is more concerning is that prescription drugs caused at least half of them.
Due to that, the Federal Government has taken several measures to combat the use and abuse of heroin and opioid referring to it as an epidemic, by increasing the funds for treatment, urging doctors to be very careful when prescribing opioid pain relievers, and of course promoting education and awareness about the problem among society.
What’s up for this Week?
For this week the White House is hosting parents who have lost children to drug abuse and addiction. As well, the U.S. Attorney’s Offices around the states will be engaged in more than 160 different events, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy
But declaring this week as the Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week is not the only measure that the president has referred to, he also called on the Congress to approve $1.1 billion as new funds to fight the epidemic, also making opioid overdose antidote naloxone more accessible for citizens and police officers. Nonetheless, the new funds haven’t been approved yet.
States throughout American are joining to the activities of the week
States are also using the declaration made by Obama about the Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week to introduce activities aimed to reduce the deaths and the abuse caused by the opioids, which have devastated families and dreams along the US. For example, the New Hampshire Government has admitted that opioids are an increasing problem for the state’s population, and they expect that this announcement made by Obama will be beneficial to improve access to information, treatment, and recovery.
The state has been facing an increasing number of overdoses, around 400 people died last year because of that, and the authorities believe that the number will not be reduced in 2016. They consider that a potential culprit in these cases of overdose is the fentanyl, which is a pain reliever similar to morphine, the problem is that it might be 50 to 100 times stronger that morphine, as the National Institute explained it on Drug Abuse.
In New Mexico, the authorities are eager to complete a plan that includes a series of educational events with high school students and tribal leaders for this week to reduce the stats of opioid-related deaths. It is part of the New Mexico Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Initiative, which was created last year by U.S. Attorney Damon Martinez and New Mexico Health Sciences Center Chancellor Dr. Paul Roth. The HOPE initiative include education, prevention and law enforcement as the top issues to address.
In New Mexico almost 90% of the 540 overdose deaths were caused by heroin or prescription painkillers in 2014, making the state the second to record the highest rate of drug overdose-related deaths after West Virginia. They will be promoting the use of naloxone to reverse the effects of the opioids in the organism, and they will be training, with the support of the University of New Mexico medical personnel, on how to use the drug.
Source: NBC Philadelphia