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Opioid Epidemic Declared a National Emergency

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 35,000 people across America died from heroin or opioid overdoses in 2015, and a study released by the University of Virginia on Aug. 7th concluded the mortality rates were 24 percent higher for opioids and 22 percent higher for heroin than previously reported.

Clearly, more must be done to address this deadly epidemic. Last week, a step was taken in the right direction with President Trump declaring the opioid epidemic a national emergency. In doing so, people touched by the disease of addiction can find comfort in knowing that our nation is aware of their struggles and wants to take action.

On a practical level, the declaration will allow the executive branch to direct funds toward expanding facilities and supplying officers with naloxone as a life-saving measure in overdose cases. It will also allow the administration to waive certain federal rules, such as restricting where Medicaid recipients receive addiction treatment.

By embracing the reality that opioid use has reached emergency status, public awareness increases and the stigma of addiction is lessoned, making way for positive changes to occur. This is an epidemic that touches all and knows no economic, societal or racial boundaries. It’s an equal opportunity destroyer, though if we band together, there’s hope that changes will be implemented to turn this epidemic around.

If you or someone you love needs help for an addiction, Spectrum Health Systems and the New England Recovery Center are here 24/7. Our individualized services provide the support you need, when you need it. Learn more on our website or call us at (800) 366-7732 for inpatient services and (800) 464-9555 extension 1161 for outpatient treatment.

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