Opioid Crisis: Facts and Trends

Action is Required At Every Level

A call to action requires more training of doctors in how to safely prescribe pain medication, more monitoring of the way patients use those drugs, and more access to the life-saving emergency medicine Naloxone, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. "I support providing additional resources to help fight this epidemic," said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, one of the authors of the bill. "It has significant support from both sides of the aisle, as well as from doctors, nurses, first responders, those in recovery and other experts in the field."

Obama Proposes Doubling Patient Limit for Doctors Prescribing Suboxone

President Barack Obama addressed the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, announcing a big move aimed at increasing access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction, specifically buprenorphine, a medication used to help addicted people reduce or quit their use of heroin or painkillers. The president also encouraged states to purchase, distribute, and provide widespread training to those administering naloxone. The proposal would allow physicians who are qualified to prescribe the medication to double their patient limit to 200. The White House said that measure would expand treatment for tens of thousands of people.

White House pushes for $1.1 billion for opioid response

President Barack Obama’s 2017 budget, set for release next Tuesday, will seek $460 million over each of the next two years to fund medication-assisted treatment. The proposal would expand access to substance abuse treatment with medicines.
Nationwide, about 2.2 million people need treatment for opioid abuse, but only 1 million get it, Health & Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell stated, and the plan is intended to “close the treatment gap.” 

The Public Safety Perspective

(Seattle Opioid-related police incident data. Visit more Seattle public safety open data.)

Increasing Narcotic Incidents

Breakdown of Narcotic Incidents

Seattle Is Helping Drug Addicts Instead of Locking Them Up — and So Far It’s Working

"They threw me a life preserver," Johnson told VICE News. "They helped me build bridges back with my family, I'm very employable now. I have a lot to live for. They put me on a platform."

Overdose Prevention

Broadly speaking, per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the best way to prevent opioid overdose deaths is to improve opioid prescribing to reduce exposure to opioids, prevent abuse, and stop addiction by providing treatment that could prevent deaths. 

Improving Prescribing

An estimated 11% of adults experience daily pain. Millions of Americans are treated with prescription opioids for chronic pain. Yet primary care providers are concerned about patient addiction and report insufficient training in prescribing opioids. Up to one quarter of patients receiving prescription opioids long term in a primary care setting struggles with addiction. The number of drug overdose deaths has never been higher, and the majority of these deaths (more than six out of ten in 2014) involved opioids. CDC’s Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain will support informed clinical decision making, improved communication between patients and providers, and appropriate prescribing. 

Connecticut Trains Pharmacists to Prescribe Naloxone

Governor Malloy, as part of his administration’s initiative to combat prescription opioid and heroin abuse, signed legislation to allow pharmacists who have been trained and certified, to prescribe naloxone, an opioid antagonist that blocks opiate receptors in the nervous system and can prevent death from overdose.
While pharmacists have always been allowed to dispense naloxone, upon completion of the two-hour course, they will also be able to prescribe naloxone to patients and caregivers in Connecticut. 

Preventing Abuse

Prevention for States is a program that helps 29 states to date combat the ongoing prescription drug overdose epidemic. The purpose of Prevention for States is to provide state health departments with resources and support needed to advance interventions for preventing prescription drug overdoses.