Obama Administration to launch renewed strategy to address heroin and opioid crisis
When members of the police department in East Liverpool, Ohio posted a photo of the dangers of heroin addiction on its Facebook page, they probably had no idea the image would go viral. The haunting image shows a woman and man passed out in the front seats of a vehicle. Their skin has a green hue that makes it appear as if rigor mortis could set in at any moment. In the back seat of the vehicle, there’s a little boy. He looks confused, as if he doesn’t understand what’s happening.
In an election cycle that seems to be about trading barbs and jabs, this picture brought renewed attention to a widespread problem that had been getting a lot of local attention, but not a lot of national attention--the heroin epidemic that is sweeping the nation.
According to USA Today, opioid and heroin addiction is the single greatest drug threat in the U.S.. This is due to the death rate of addicts. USA Today reports that the number of heroin and opioid deaths in the U.S. has quadrupled since 1999. President Barack Obama’s administration seems to realize that heroin and opioid addiction is ravaging some areas of the nation. Though the federal government has been slow to act in the past, the Obama administration has started working to address the issue.
According to NBC 10, the federal government has started to make naloxone, a drug that combats opioid overdoses, more available to emergency workers. They have also began urging medical professionals to use more caution when prescribing opioid drugs. In March, according to ABC News, the CDC issued a series of guidelines that said that contrary to common practice, physicians were not to look to opioids as "first-line therapy" for chronic pain.In addition, the Obama administration declared Sept. 18 to Sept. 24 Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week, NBC 10 reported. During Opioid Epidemic Awareness Week, there will be more than 160 events aimed at educating the public about the dangers of opioids and the parents of those whose children have died from opioid overdoses will have an audience with the president at the White House.
The Obama administration has signaled that it wants to do even more, but they say Congress is holding them back. USA Today said Michael Botticelli, director of National Drug Control Policy, said that the Obama administration will renew its push to get Congress to make $1.1 billion in grants available specifically to fight heroin and opioid addiction and $181 million to fund the legislation it passed in July that approved measures for expanded drug addiction treatment and prevention.