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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

CDC: Heroin Epidemic in America

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Heroin use is on the rise in America and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now deemed the problem of epidemic proportions. A new report conducted by the CDC has found that heroin overdose deaths nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013, Reuters reports. The rise has been attributed to prescription opioid abuse and the lower cost of heroin.

“Everything we see points to more accessible, less-expensive heroin all over the country,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, the Director of the CDC.

Government crackdowns on prescription drug abuse in the way of prescription drug monitoring programs and the closing of pill mills has fueled the rise in heroin use. Heroin is often times stronger and cheaper than its prescription cousins, such as OxyContin ® (oxycodone). The report found that people who abuse prescription opioids had a 40 times greater risk of abusing heroin, according to the article.

Frieden has suggested that efforts should be done to combat the growing problem, and a need for an “all-society response.” In 2013, around 8,200 deaths could be tied to heroin overdoses. The CDC director has called for:
  • Better Prescribing Practices
  • Increased Access to Treatment
  • Increased Narcan ® (naloxone) Availability
  • Heroin Supply Disruptions
“There are lots of people who have not yet gotten an opiate and we need to protect them from the risk of getting addicted,” Frieden said.

While reducing the amount of heroin, widening the reach of naloxone and implementing stricter prescribing guidelines are helpful measures to take, addressing the problem of addiction in America should be the top priority. Making it harder for people to get high does little to combat one’s desire to get high. Providing greater access to addiction treatment would not only benefit addicts and save lives, it will help society as a whole.

“It is not enough to simply reverse overdoses,” Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy said in a news release. “We must also connect overdose victims and people struggling with prescription drug and heroin use disorders to treatment facilities and doctors that offer medication-assisted treatment.”

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