Fantastic article from Elizabeth Bast & Lorna Liana
The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis recently called for a state of emergency in dealing with the opioid epidemic, which now kills more than 100 Americans daily. Addiction to opioid painkillers has been fueling the dramatic rise in heroin abuse and overdose in the United States. People who abuse or who are dependent on prescription painkillers were found to be 40 times more likely to abuse heroin.
Heroin is a low-cost alternative for people addicted to opioid painkillers whose prescriptions have run out. To make matters worse, dealers are cutting fentanyl – a cheap, synthetic opioid that can be 100 times stronger than morphine – into everything from cocaine, to MDMA, to heroin, which dramatically increases risk of drug overdose. In Vancouver, heroin is believed to have been all but replaced with fentanyl.
The opioid commission made the following recommendations:
- Expanding capacity for drug treatment under Medicaid
- Increasing the use of medication-assisted treatments, like buprenorphine and suboxone, for opioid disorders
- Encouraging the development of non-opioid pain relievers
- Mandating that every local law enforcement officer in the nation carry naloxone, the drug that rapidly reverses opiate overdose
- Improving the detection of fentanyl at the border
- Improving training on painkiller prescribing for doctors
Sadly, measures to address addiction treatment are woefully inadequate. Even when an overdose doesn’t kill, heroin addiction often leaves the user with an abysmal quality of life.