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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Overdose Deaths Decline In California

overdose death
Finding a glimmer of hope regarding the American opioid addiction epidemic is no easy task. Most of the headlines barreling around the internet, cable news, and in print deals with the enormous death toll. Other stories focus on stalled initiatives and toothless policies, inflated prices for life-saving drugs, and lawsuit after lawsuit. What’s more, attempting to make sense of the epidemic is difficult; there are so many elements to consider that are relevant to the crisis.

It's hard to determine if progress is made, doing so requires scores of individuals and thousands of hours of research sifting through the data. The effort is made even more difficult by the fact that opioids designate any one of many drugs—prescription painkillers, heroin, and synthetic opiates like fentanyl. Making headway in one area of the scourge may mean deficits in another, as is evident in new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

New provisional data from the CDC gives some people optimism that at least some of the policies aimed at curbing the epidemic have bore fruit, PBS Newshour reports. In fact, overdose death rates were down during the last 12-month period ending in July 2017, in 14 states. Such figures should be a reason for thinking that the nation is on the right track. However, a closer look at the numbers reveals that any optimism should be cautious, at best.

Opioid Overdose Death Declines

From July 2016 to the same month in 2017, overdose deaths fell in 14 states, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. It’s likely that changes in prescription opioid prescribing practices lead to the drop in deaths in those states. However, while the report shows promise, other parts of the country saw increases in fatal drug overdoses—potentially stemming from a rise in fentanyl use.

The report reveals that during the same term, there was a more than 70 percent surge nationwide in fentanyl-related deaths, according to the article. There was a more than 30 percent increase in overdose deaths in Delaware, D.C., Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

“When the epidemic was driven primarily by prescription opioids, we saw a smoldering and chronically escalating problem,” said Alaska’s public health chief, Jay Butler. “Now we’re seeing outbreaks and clusters of death resulting from bad batches of heroin or counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl.” 

Efforts to curb prescription misuse has without a doubt prevented many deaths. Such efforts should continue, and doctors need to utilize opioid-alternatives for pain management. It is worth mentioning that without naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal medication, it’s unlikely that there would have been any decreases at all.

“It’s hard to imagine how high the death toll would be without naloxone,” said Michael Kilkenny, the Cabell-Huntington public health director in West Virginia.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Preventing premature death related to drugs in America is possible through common sense policies. However, the best way to tackle the root of the epidemic, the mental illness known as addiction, is treatment. Recovery is the best way to break the cycle of the disease, when people are not using opioids, the risk of overdose is zero.

At Whiteside Manor, we can help you or a loved one recover from opioid use disorder. We can provide you with tools to live a productive and healthy life in recovery. Please contact us today.

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