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While legislative bodies have made great strides, more state action is required to prevent prescription drug misuse and overdose deaths, according to
Prescription Nation, a report on America's prescription drug abuse epidemic by the National Safety Council.
In February 2016, President Barack Obama asked Congress to provide $1 billion to implement a program to treat people addicted to opioids. The most effective treatments for opioid and heroin use include:
Addiction is a chronic disease affecting the brain. Like heart disease or diabetes, addiction will lead to increasing poor health and death if not treated and managed. Twelve-step programs and rehabilitative counseling without the use of medications are the least effective approaches.
Madison-Dane County, WI, launched a
coordinated effort to stop drug overdose incidents by enlisting help from law enforcement officials, opioid treatment professionals, family members and first-responders.
These parties came together in a coalition to attack opioid abuse by:
The coalition was able to address the drug overdose problem because Madison-Dane County is an accredited Safe Community. Safe Communities achieve accreditation by looking at deadly trends affecting their neighborhoods and working with stakeholders to put measures in place to stop preventable deaths.
"The power of coalitions is the partners," said Dane County Safe Communities Executive Director Cheryl Wittke. "So, having all these different partners playing off the same sheet of music is essential to an effective program. It will save lives, and that's what this is all about."
Sign up for the free
Prescription Drug Community Action Kit.
Many, like Tim Ryan and Angelee Murray, choose to share their own experiences and push for state and federal funding to pay for treatment centers.
Ryan, a resident of Naperville, IL, is a former heroin addict who lost his job, his wife and his son before
turning his life around. Today, he helps individuals and families struggling with addiction through his foundation,
A Man in Recovery. He favors long-term treatment over incarceration for people with substance abuse issues.
Murray co-founded the
Red Legacy Recovery program in Elizabethton, TN, and served as a panelist on a
White House forum convened to tackle heroin and painkiller abuse in Appalachia. She once was addicted to painkillers. Today, the mission of her program is to empower women in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction with the skills to become self-confident, self-sufficient and employed.
Learn more about Survivor Advocates.
Expanding access to naloxone: Virginia Senator Tim Kaine introduced a bill that would create
federal guidelines for doctors to co-prescribe naloxone with other opioid prescriptions. Naloxone reverses opioid overdose. Successful Naloxone distribution programs for opioid users and other lay people across the country have saved more than 10,000 lives since 1996. Illinois Congressman Bob Dold spoke at the first
International Overdose Awareness Day Rally. His message: For naloxone to be effective, it must be easily available and cost effective.
Prescribing guidelines: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a
Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain to support informed clinical decision-making. One conclusion: Providers should only consider adding opioid therapies if expected benefits for both pain and function are anticipated to outweigh risks to the patient.
Do you know someone struggling with an opioid painkiller addiction? You are not alone. Join the HEARTS Network to share your story and become an advocate for change.
Receive email updates on preventing prescription drug misuse and overdose. Learn how you can join this initiative to save lives.
Learn how Madison Dane County, Wisconsin, reduced its opioid problem.