How to stop the opioid epidemic
Health officials are urging Americans to get tested for the use of an opioid to combat an epidemic that has infected more than 30,000 Americans, many of them children, and killed more than 1,400.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report Wednesday showing that as many as 30,900 people nationwide were using opioids as of July 31, and another 3,700 were addicted to prescription painkillers.
The report also noted that the number of opioid deaths has more than quadrupled since 2015, and that the rate of opioid use among children has risen to nearly 3,000 deaths per 100,000 in 2016, up from about 1,000 per 100 for the same time period in 2015.
“We need to have more robust screening to help us prevent addiction and overdose, which is a disease we know is real and a serious threat to our nation,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden.
“The data and the warnings about the risks of opioid abuse have been out there for a long time and we need to act now.”
The report’s release comes as the Trump administration continues to seek to push the opioid crisis through Congress.
A key piece of legislation proposed by the president in April was the Pain Control and Affordable Care Act, which would have cut off funding to states that do not expand access to prescription opioids.
That legislation stalled in the Senate, but House Democrats have threatened to continue the fight.
Frieden’s new report notes that many of the states that have stepped up screening efforts are not in the opioid-recovery states that Trump campaigned on.
For instance, Florida is one of the few states that has not added drug screening, and is now using a pilot program to screen all its residents to identify those at high risk of overdose.
“If we are going to have an epidemic in our country, we are not going to stop at just screening the public,” Frieden said.
“I don’t think we should just sit back and watch a problem grow and then throw it in the back of the truck.”
In the wake of the opioid deaths, the CDC is urging Americans not to use opioids if they are concerned about their own health.
The CDC is asking people who have been using prescription pain medication for at least one year to get a urine test to rule out any other drug use or addiction.
The testing is optional.
A drug-testing initiative is already in place for people who are at high-risk of developing opioid addiction, but it’s not mandatory, according to the CDC.
“This is the first time we’ve had this program in place,” Friedon said.
“If you are concerned that you have an addiction and are using prescription opioids, we encourage you to call us at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800,332-4357) and we will make sure you have a urine drug test.”
A second survey of Americans will be conducted in 2020.
The study, the first to be conducted by the CDC in nearly a decade, is aimed at identifying the extent to which the epidemic is being driven by the use and abuse of prescription drugs, rather than heroin or illicit opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil.
The data will also help to determine if the drug-related deaths are linked to increased use of opioid painkillers or other substances.
Foster said the data will help to better understand the causes of the epidemic and provide information to the American public about how to help fight it.
“One of the things we know for sure is that there is a massive opioid epidemic in the United States and that there are people who overdose every day and that we need help to fight that epidemic,” he said.
The opioid crisis, which has been sweeping the country for months, has killed more people in 2016 than in all of 2015, according the CDC’s latest data.
The agency is warning of an even more dire situation as the number and severity of deaths continue to rise.
The number of Americans who died of an overdose rose dramatically in 2016 compared to 2015.
In 2016, there were 2,737 people who died from an overdose.
That was an increase of 24 percent over 2015, when there were 1,073 people who were overdose-related.
The epidemic has become more prevalent since the election of President Donald Trump in November, and the number in the U.S. has more nearly doubled since 2015.