Surgeon General Calls For Funds To Battle Prescription Drug Overdose Deaths, Addiction
On Tuesday, June 14, Vivek Murthy, U.S. Surgeon General toured a substance abuse center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 2014, the state had one of the highest rates of overdose deaths, particularly among adults 21-35.
Most of these deaths are caused by a prescription drug overdose, or heroin It is believed that the surge in opioid prescriptions of the last 2 decades have contributed to the massive increase in addiction, and overdoses of both the medication and street heroin.
Murthy called for additional government funding in order to address the epidemic. He stated that just half of 2 million people in the U.S. who need addiction treatment have access to it. That is, as many as 1 million Americans are unable to get the counseling, therapy, and medication that they need to recover from addiction.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2014 heroin and opioid overdoses killed over 28,000 Americans. Murthy, among others, is advocating for additional funding based on that figure, in addition to the gap in available treatment. Also, he stated that a lack of treatment centers and social stigma were also to blame, and that addiction is a chronic illness, and not a moral dilemma.
“We need to change how our country thinks about addiction. There are, in fact, many communities that don’t want medication assisted treatment facilities in their neighborhoods because they worry that it’s going to bring bad people.”
Murthy, as part of a national campaign, is trying to get additional funds to address the opioid epidemic. He is bringing his campaign to the Southwest, states such as New Mexico. Between 2013-2014, prescription drug overdose deaths, as well as fatalities caused by similar drugs increased by over 20%. Also, Murthy has met privately with physicians and health care provider to discuss better practices to prevent drug dependence.
Federal Funding on the Horizon
The Obama administration has proposed 1 billion in funding in the next budget year to battle the opioid epidemic. Of that, about $8 million over 2 years could be given to New Mexico to expand treatment access.
West Virginia is the only state to report a higher opioid-overdose death rate than New Mexico, could receive as much as $10 million under the new budget proposal.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology