In the United States, non-medical prescription opioid use is a major public health concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that opioids, including prescription medications and heroin, killed more than 30,000 Americans in 2015. Almost half of those deaths involved prescription medication. To address this crisis, states have exercised a number of strategies to prevent prescription drug overdose.
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Heroin use and deaths related to prescription opioid use are on the rise in the U.S. As a result, overdose treatments like naloxone, which can help revive people in the throes of an opioid overdose, are attracting increased interest. A number of community-based harm reduction organizations are working to prevent overdose deaths through public education and naloxone distribution programs. SAMHSA has also released an overdose prevention toolkit, which includes prevention strategies and rescue steps to take when an overdose occurs.
We would like to take a moment to talk about the people behind these data.
The recent publication of Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) provides an excellent opportunity to focus on the benefits of SBIRT in identifying those with alcohol and other substance use disorders. Over 2 million people have been screened in the eleven years SAMHSA’s SBIRT program has been in existence. Of those, only a small percentage screened positive for any “at risk” behaviors, with about 11 percent of those screened receiving a brief intervention. Without screening the substance use disorders of many of these people would have remained invisible. SBIRT gives providers and primary care physicians an opportunity to identify potential alcohol and substance misuse or abuse
The Food and Drug Administration has today made an important advance in helping to save lives when overdoses from drugs known as opioids occur: the approval of a drug that can actually reverse that overdose.Opioids include legal prescription drugs, such as OxyContin (oxycodone) and Vicodin (hydrocodone with acetaminophen), used to treat pain, as well as illegal street drugs, such as heroin. In 2010, overdoses of prescription opioids were linked to 16,651 deaths and heroin was linked to 3,036 deaths in the United States.
By: Elinore F. McCance-Katz, M.D., SAMHSA Chief Medical OfficerThere’s a new heroin on the street far more potent than the usual that people who are addicted to heroin have come to know and expect. This heroin is laced with fentanyl—a prescription painkiller used to treat the severe pain of cancer.