Opioid Addiction State of Emergency
June 8, 2017
Our national opioid addiction epidemic has left practically every state reeling for solutions. Which, as you are probably aware, has proven to be a difficult acquisition. While the federal government has worked together to pass legislation specifically designed to combat the scourge of opioid addiction and the fatal overdoses that often result from such a disorder, people continue to become dependent and die daily in America at unacceptable rates.
At Christians Drug Rehab, we have covered the crisis and its many facets on numerous occasions—for several reasons. For one, being in the field of addiction treatment many of our clients seek our help for opioid use disorder. So, we have a vested interest in seeing the enactment of common sense legislation will bring about what it was designed to accomplish, such as:
- Ensuring that all who need treatment for opioid addiction, can access it.
- Promoting continued research into prescription opioid alternatives.
- Impressing upon doctors the importance of prescribing narcotics, when possible, as a last resort.
- Equipping everyone one on the frontlines of the epidemic with the overdose reversal drug naloxone.
The bills written and passed to address the aforementioned necessities include the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and the 21st Century Cures Act. Given that both pieces of legislation are relatively new, there is little data that would indicate the bills’ efficacy—at this point. As soon as we uncover any findings, you will be the first to know.
Moving forward. With our epidemic in mind, the national news has focused much attention on the Midwest, Appalachia, New England and Southeast. Regions home to states hit particularly hard by the epidemic. But it is vital that the entire scope of the crisis be brought into the spotlight.
Southwest Scarred by Opioid Epidemic
Southern California has had its fair share of overdose deaths in recent years. And so, has our neighbor to the east—Arizona. This has prompted the Copper State’s Governor, Doug Ducey, to call for an emergency declaration to address the rising number of fatal overdoses throughout the state. While some may view declaring a state of emergency over the opioid overdose epidemic a bit much and surely states with a higher death toll have not taken such a bold response, Arizona has seen a dramatic increase in overdose deaths in the last four years despite efforts to counter the rising tide of opioid abuse.
Last year, 790 (or an average or 2 people a day) Arizonans died from an opioid overdose, according to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services. The data indicates that opioid overdose deaths have increased by 74 percent over the past four years.
“As the number of opioid overdoses and deaths increase at an alarming rate, we must take action. It’s time to call this what it is — an emergency,” said Governor Ducey. “Most of us know someone impacted by substance abuse — our family, our friends, our neighbors. Our hearts ache for them, but that isn’t enough. We must do more. I’m declaring a statewide health emergency because we need to know more about the epidemic, including enhanced data that illustrates when and where these overdoses occur so that we can develop real, targeted solutions.”
Opioid Addiction Epidemic Call to Action
Governor Ducey’s declaration orders the Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services to:
- Identify and recommend the necessary elements for Enhanced Surveillance Advisory.
- Initiate emergency rulemaking with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office in order to develop rules for opioid prescribing and treatment within health care institutions.
- Develop guidelines to educate healthcare providers on responsible prescribing practices.
- Develop and provide naloxone training.
- Provide a report on findings and recommendations to the Governor by September 5, 2017.
Hopefully Arizona will see a decrease in opioid addiction and overdose rates as a result of the Governor’s move. If it works out, it may set a precedent for other states struggling with this most pernicious health crisis.