All over the country, law enforcement and public officials are scrambling to address the startling rates of opioid overdose deaths. After years of overprescribing and the subsequent scourge of heroin use, the need for action is crucial to stem the insidious tide of opioid addiction. Last month, a study was released which found that a majority of states recorded increases in opioid overdose deaths from 2009 to 2013, Reuters reports. The study was conducted by the non-profit group, Trust for America’s Health.
The study found that West Virginia has the highest number of drug overdose deaths per capita, and North Dakota had the lowest (33.5 for every 100,000 people / 2.6 for every 100,000 people). In 2013 alone, 44,000 Americans lost their lives to opioid overdoses, double the number reported in 1999.
The researchers found that almost 52 percent of overdose deaths were linked to prescription opioids during the four year period. The staggering percentage has led to increased naloxone access in a number of northeastern states, according to the article. If naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan ®, is administered in timely manner it can reverse the effects of opioid overdoses.
A government study found that the use of naloxone kits resulted in almost 27,000 drug overdose reversals between 1996 and 2014.
“U.S. and international health organizations recommend providing naloxone kits to laypersons who might witness an opioid overdose; to patients in substance use treatment programs; to persons leaving prison and jail; and as a component of responsible opioid prescribing,” the researchers wrote in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
If you are or a loved one is struggling with prescription opioid or heroin addiction, please reach out to Family Recovery Specialists.