Barack Obama announced Tuesday new actions to fight the prescription opioid abuse and heroin epidemic in the United States. The president’s proposal intends to dedicate $1.1 billion in new funding to offer addiction treatment to Americans. Since 2000, the rate of deaths from opioids has increased 200%, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Facing the opioids overdose epidemic is a “priority” for the Obama’s administration, said the White House in a press release published Tuesday. New measures plan to expand access to treatment, prevent overdose deaths and enhance prevention strategies all across the country.
Several private and public institutions will collaborate with the proposal. The Department of Health and Human Services, alongside the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, are releasing $105 million to help improving drug overdose assistance in the country and treatment centers in several states, which will help almost 124,000 patients with substance use disorders.
“When you look at the staggering statistics in terms of lives lost, productivity impacted, cost to communities, costs to families, it has to be something that has to be right up there at the top of our radar screen,” Obama told a town hall meeting at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit, according to Medscape.
He added that rates of deaths due to drug overdose have surpassed rates of deaths caused by transit accidents. According to a report published by the CDC, there were 47,000 drug overdose deaths in the country, in 2014.
Opioid overdose deaths: an increasing phenomenon in the United States with almost 50,000 deaths per year
Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137%, said the CDC. However, the numbers increase to 200% when only considering opioid overdoses deaths (opioid pain relievers and heroin).
“Opioid prescribing continues to fuel the epidemic”, in 15 years, 1650,000 people have died in the country as a consequence overdoses related to prescription opioids such as methadone, oxycodone and hydrocodone.
It appears that treatment programs have lengthy waiting lists because there are not enough physicians in the country who are qualified to treat drug abuse. As a result, 4 out of 5 addicts (80 percent) cannot receive treatment, even if they want it, explained Medscape on Wednesday.
Even when several private and public institutions are releasing millions to prevent opioid overdose deaths, the Congress would still need to approve President Obama’s proposal, to adjudge $1.1 billion to “to help every American with an opioid-use disorder who wants treatment get the help they need,”.
Source: White House Press Release