It's not news to me that painkillers are too freely prescribed, and too addictive, in southwestern Virginia. It was news, though, that many local addicts are turning back to one of the deadliest drugs of all--heroin--in their quest for pain relief. As discussed in Morgan Griffith's E-Newsletter...I'm not satisfied with this solution. I'm posting it here because it's current news and part of U.S. history. Congressman Griffith's opinions are his own:
"Fighting Heroin Abuse & Overdoses
I have grown very concerned in recent years by the apparent increase in heroin use and resulting overdoses. As with similar issues, there is no simple fix for this public health problem.
However, on March 9 I led a bipartisan group of my colleagues in sending a letter to a few Administration officials (including Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli, and Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan) urging them to see that overdose prevention – specifically through the use of naloxone, a medication designed to counter the effects of an opioid and prevent overdose – remains a priority issue. The letter calls on the Administration to identify existing sources of funding to be reprogrammed in order to provide communities with adequate financial assistance for expanding access to naloxone. Our letter also prompts the Administration to propose and put in place new, innovative ways to integrate naloxone throughout the health care delivery system.
On March 11, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) was among a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce a bill that, according to a press release, would “…protect first responders, health professionals and family members who are educated in administering an opioid overdose prevention drug, such as naloxone (also known as Narcan) in an emergency situation of overdose.” I look forward to reviewing this proposal, but am pleased to see this issue is important to Senator Kaine as well.
According to a January Washington Post story, “…the number of heroin overdose deaths in Virginia more than doubled between 2011 and 2013. The state recorded 213 fatal heroin overdoses in 2013 and an estimated 210 in 2014. (The 2014 total was extrapolated from figures for the first six months of the year.) The rates are higher in rural Southwest Virginia, while Fairfax and Prince William counties have seen the highest overall numbers.”
Too many Americans have been lost to opioid abuse. And sadly, many of those deaths are preventable. Working together, I know we can make a difference and, God willing, save lives."