Despite all the steps the government is taking to tackle opioid addiction, the number of fatal overdoses has only continued to climb. The fact that so many pharmacies around New York now sell naloxone (a medication used to counter opiate overdoses) without a prescription says a lot.
Important voices like Governor Andrew Cuomo have been quick to laud this decision by pharmacies to stock this lifesaving drug, though, even this step might not be enough to effect real change, not when access to substance abuse treatment continues to lag so drastically across the country.
This is why the U.S Senate is resuming discussions on CARA (The Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act of 2016), the act emphasizing education, prevention and the establishment of more effective treatment programs, this as an alternative to prison and prison-based treatment systems. Of course, the fact that the Senate previously failed to pass emergency funding for the bill doesn’t bode well for CARA.
Contending With Overprescribing
The Preventing Overprescribing for Pain’ Act is one amendment still facing a vote. Sponsored by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Shelley Moore, the Act aims to compel Centers for Disease Control to issue guidelines that regulate the prescribing of opiates used for the treatment of acute pain.
The CDC recognizes the problem in this arena, having released reports which determined that the number of prescription painkillers sold across the country has quadrupled in the last fifteen years. This is despite the fact that the amount of pain that Americans report has hardly changed.
With studies having emerged in 2012 claiming that a staggering 2.1million people were addicted to Opioid Medications, the pressure on New York to take steps to stem the flow of prescription drugs that encourage abuse has swelled. At this stage, only by regulating the powers doctors have to prescribe opiates for pain can the government begin to achieve a semblance of control over the issue of addiction.
Despite every legislative and law enforcement effort being deployed to control opioid addiction, the issue has persisted, with a notable number of people still dying from drug overdoses every year. With this stark loss of life attracting confused reactions from the relevant authorities, many elements in the country have taken to deploying desperate measures to bring this problem under control. As such, it is hardly surprising that Svante Myrick, the 28-year-old mayor of Ithaca is pushing for his city to establish a supervised injection facility. There is also a Boston nonprofit health organization that wants to create a place that provides sanctuary to addicts as they ride out their high.
While SPOT (supportive place for observation and treatment) wouldn’t allow drug use, it would provide advocates to help addicts find treatment. And, with the number overdose-related deaths having increased by 50% in Boston between 2014 and 2015, these drastic measures are hardly unexpected. For some people, the dramatic loss of life can only be countered by dramatic action.
Whether the government can actually stem the scourge of opioid addiction depends on whether they can actually act as they are proposing. The treatment and prevention systems in the United States needs more than proper language to operate; they also need money to effect real change, this along with legislation from the government to curb overprescribing.