opioids

Tag archives for opioids

In 2014, more than 28,000 people in the U.S. died from an opioid overdose. That same year, more Americans died from drug overdoses than during any other year on record, with the escalating numbers fueled by opioid abuse. Solutions to the problem are as complex as the epidemic itself, however a recent study pointed to one tool that can make a significant difference: prescription drug monitoring programs.

These days, there’s a lot of attention on finding new and creative ways to turn around the nation’s opioid abuse and overdose problem. And it’s attention that’s very much needed because the problem is only getting worse.

Every day in the U.S., more than 40 people die after overdosing on prescription painkillers. Deaths from a more notorious form of opiates — heroin — increased five-fold between 2001 and 2013. Addressing this problem — one that’s often described as a public health crisis — requires action on many fronts, from preventing abuse in the first place to getting those addicted into treatment. But when it comes to overdoses, there’s one answer we know works: naloxone.

While pharmaceutical companies are making billions in painkiller profits, it’s the public sector that ends up bearing the burden and cost of the fallout that accompanies skyrocketing sales of highly addictive prescription opioids. After the jump is a Pump Handle Q&A with two public health officials at the forefront of the opioid abuse epidemic within America’s big cities.

When it comes to substance abuse disorders, public health and the public at-large are hardly on the same page — in fact, they’re not even reading the same book. And that’s a serious problem for sustaining and strengthening efforts to treat addiction and advancing effective public health policy.

“If you really look at how pain affects people and what it means to have pain…you start to view it more as a social phenomenon.” These are words from Dr. Daniel Carr, who says the time for a population-based approach doesn’t begin with misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers; it begins, in fact, with how we interpret the contributors to pain in the first place.

A decade ago, only about 10 percent of the patients at Cincinnati’s Center for Chemical Addictions Treatment were admitted for opioid addiction and abuse. During the treatment center’s last fiscal year, that number was up to 64 percent. The numbers reflect a startling trend in Ohio and throughout the nation — a trend that public health workers are taking to task.

Since 2000, overdose deaths due to prescription painkillers in Utah have increased by more than 400 percent. By 2006, more Utahans were losing their lives to prescription drug overdoses than to motor vehicle crashes. For Dr. Lynn Webster, a longtime pain management physician, the startling numbers were a call to action.