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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

White House Moves On Heroin Abuse

At this point many in the nation, including the highest officials, are aware that heroin abuse is a force to be reckoned with. The surge of those abusing the drug has led to a rise in overdose deaths and has led to an exponential increase of infectious disease transmissions (i.e. HIV and hepatitis C). This week, the White House announced its plan to combat the insidious problem, and the weapon of choice is treatment not incarceration, NBC News reports.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy will fund the operation, focusing on five "High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas" and 15 states. The aim is to target the source the drug which has led to thousands of deaths. What’s more, law enforcement officials will join forces with public health agencies to get down to the root of the problem, according to the article. The partnership will help identify "potential abusers early on in the process and really focus on prevention and treatment," said Eric Schultz, White House deputy press secretary.

"It's also something that's very much on the president's radar," said Schultz. "This is a pretty severe threat that we face and so this program is an unprecedented partnership with both law enforcement and public health officials to really get at the root of it." 

The problem has been especially bad in the Northeast and New England, and not just in major cities. Rural areas have seen a dramatic rise in overdose deaths, first with prescription opioid abuse and now with heroin. Recent reports indicate that admissions to treatment services for opioids have skyrocketed, resulting in bed shortages.

“The new Heroin Response Strategy demonstrates a strong commitment to address the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic as both a public health and a public safety issue," Michael Botticelli, director of National Drug Control Policy said in a statement. "This Administration will continue to expand community-based efforts to prevent drug use, pursue 'smart on crime' approaches to drug enforcement, increase access to treatment, work to reduce overdose deaths, and support the millions of Americans in recovery'.”

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