Latest on the Opioid Epidemic
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an estimated 2 million Americans are currently addicted to opioids and for Americans under the age of 50, drug overdose is the #1 cause of death. As a result, the NIH has begun partnering with pharmaceutical companies to conduct scientific research on how to develop non-addictive painkillers and new treatments for addiction and overdose.
On Oct. 26, 2017, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency and proposed that the 2019 fiscal budget include $13 billion to combat the epidemic – $3 billion in 2018, $10 billion in 2019. However, Congress decided on $6 billion to be split between 2018 and 2019.
An opioids summit was held at the White House last week that included several department chairs, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the new Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Jim Carroll. President Trump cited penalties and potential lawsuits coming for “opioid companies” along with harsher punishment for drug dealers.
On March 1, Governor Colyer signed an executive order establishing a task force to study opioid abuse in Kansas and to make recommendations for future policies and statutes.
Some Kansas City clinics have begun to offer alternatives to opioid prescriptions and KU researchers have partnered with the First Call Alcohol/Drug Prevention & Recovery program to work towards providing better treatment services for substance abusers.