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Obama Unveils Plan to Stem Prescription Painkiller Addiction

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Obama speakingOn Wednesday, President Obama revealed steps to curb the surging rate of addiction to opioids, a class of drug that includes prescription painkillers and heroin. The president’s open dialogue about this growing public health crisis at a forum in West Virginia—ground zero for the opioid epidemic—is his first conversation about the issue with a live audience.

“More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do from motor vehicle crashes,” Obama said. “The majority of those overdoses involve legal prescription drugs. I don’t have to tell you, this is a terrible toll.”

Despite the president’s concern, his administration’s new efforts may stem the devastating increase in overdoses only modestly.

His strategy includes doubling the number of doctors who can prescribe buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opioid addiction, to 60,000 over the next three years. He also has engaged more than 40 medical provider groups that committed to training more than half a million doctors and dentists on the safe prescription of opioid medications.

Reining in prescribing practices is essential to preventing more people from becoming addicted to opioids, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis presented last week. The data revealed that a small number of doctors wrote most of the narcotic painkiller prescriptions in eight states with prescription drug monitoring programs. Prescribing practices among the states varied widely, though conditions for which opioids are often prescribed—such as back pain—occur at similar rates.

In addition to announcing his strategy, Obama listened to stories from people whose families have been affected by addiction. He also advocated for more funding for treatment, saying the billions of dollars saved from easing sentencing guidelines for nonviolent offenders could be spent on drug treatment programs.

“We’re going to have to build and fund and support more treatment centers,” he said to applause.

Source: New York Times

Obama Strikes Personal Note as He Urges Help for Addiction

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1 Comment

  • Annette Merkley

    I understand the concerns with regard to opioid addiction, however, I am worried that the changes our President has in mind are going to make it even harder for those folks that really need opioids to get them. My middle child has had Complex Regional Pain Syndrome for 5 years now. It started in one leg after a fall and now has spread to the other leg and both arms and wrists. This disease causes inflammation of the nerves which in turn causes constant severe nerve pain. There is no cure. The ONLY medication that stops the pain are opioids! It is already unbelievably difficult to get these medications to help her cope~with monthly doctor appointments, blood work, etc. She is constantly jumping through hoops to get her scripts. She occasionally has flare-ups – the days/nights she has these, the pain is even more horrible where the slightest touch can cause unbearable pain. During these times, additional pain meds should be made available to her but they are not and she doesn’t dare take extra pills because she would run out. She is a responsible adult and does not abuse the system…she is trying to keep working but has had to cut back on her hours because of the stress this disease has caused. If harsh changes are made to the opioid prescribing process making it even harder for people such as my daughter to get their medication, it will cause even more stress. They are already dealing with enough, trying to hold their lives together while in constant pain. We desperately hope these changes do not negatively affect these wonderful people!