White House : More Public and Private Sector Efforts to Address Opiate Abuse
President Obama visited Charleston, West Virginia yesterday to talk about the epidemic of prescription drug abuse in America, and to announce new initiatives aimed at reducing opiate abuse. As part of the event, he discussed several new federal, state, local and private sector efforts aimed at reducing the heartbreaking toll of opiate abuse on American families. Opening remarks included references to many facts that Sunrise Detox has been tracking as part of our efforts to shed light on this problem.
"More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do from motor vehicle crashes." - President Obama, Oct. 21st.
In his opening remarks, Obama shared many striking statistics about the epidemic. Over 259 million prescriptions were written in 2012; enough to give every American adult a bottle of pills. The President also highlighted the link between prescription drug abuse and heroin, stating that four in five new heroin users started out by misusing prescription drugs. He noted that pain medicine addiction is not a new thing, but that since 1999 sales of powerful prescription pain medication have skyrocketed by 300 percent.
"In 2013, overdoses from prescription pain medications killed over 16,000 Americans. The majority of those overdoses involve legal prescription drugs." - President Obama, Oct. 21st.
The announcement includes commitments by over 40 provider groups to improve prescriber training, and to increase the availability of naloxone, a life-saving drug that can counteract the lethal effects of opiate and heroin overdose. The White House is also directing federal agencies to improve access to treatment for prescription drug and heroin abuse, identifying barriers and expanding programs to increase access to treatment related services.
This event underscores a premise that is not new to the Sunrise Detox community: the importance of community involvement in addressing the scourge of addiction. The experts in attendance properly noted that the problem of substance abuse is not limited to America's inner-cities -- it affects everyone. Addressing the challenge will require changing how we think about those who are dealing with the sickness of addiction, while giving them the resources they need for a successful recovery. The President said it best, "We can't fight this epidemic without eliminating stigma."