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Keeping Up with the Cabinet: It’s Time to Act to Reduce Opioid Related Injuries and Deaths

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is acting to prevent opioid-related injuries and deaths.

We lose too many of our fellow Americans to drug overdoses. Especially alarming is the high rate of prescription drug overdose and the rising rate of overdoses due to heroin use. In 2012 alone, 259 million opioid prescriptions were written -- enough for every American adult to have a bottle.

Rural America, including my home state of West Virginia, knows this issue all too well. Opioid injuries and overdoses are very real and affect many families. The situation is urgent – but there is reason for optimism: There are targeted actions we can take to save lives and turn these trends around. But we need all stakeholders at the table.

Therefore, I am asking federal, state and local government officials, doctors, treatment providers, drug companies, individuals and family members to work together to address this nationwide crisis.

At the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, we’re working to develop the most effective solutions to reverse this trend. We’ve used the best evidence to determine where to focus our attention and turn the tide against opioid drug-related overdose and dependence. Today, we announced a targeted initiative aimed at reducing prescription opioid and heroin related overdose, death, and dependence. Our efforts focus on three promising areas: informing opioid prescribing practices, increasing the use of naloxone - a drug that reverses symptoms of a drug overdose, and using medication-assisted treatment to slowly move people out of opioid addiction. Additionally, the President’s FY 2016 budget includes critical investments to intensify efforts to reduce opioid misuse and abuse, including $133 million in new funding to address this critical issue.

We share common interests and therefore have an opportunity to work together in common cause. Whether we happen to work at state, local, or federal level – and regardless of whether we are in the private or public sector – this is an issue that knows no geographic or ideological boundaries. We all have a stake in saving more lives and we all have a role to play in building safer, stronger, and healthier communities. 

For more info see here and here.

For more information about prescription medication abuse and dependence:

Learn the signs of prescription drug use disorders:

If you or someone you know is struggling with a prescription drug use disorder, help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

 National Treatment Referral Helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or 1-800-487-4889 (TDD)

 National Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator: