The Senate passed a major bill late last week to prevent and treat drug addiction. This is the biggest move the Senate has made to address the ongoing opioid crisis since 2008, the New York Times reported.
The opioid epidemic is a major issue facing our country as more and more people become addicted to opioids like painkillers and heroin. There has been a 200 percent increase in the rate of deaths from opioid overdoses since 2000.
The Senate bill broadly tackles various angles of the epidemic.
For people affected by addiction, the bill gives money to prevention and treatment programs, including for people in jail. It also adds spaces for people to dispose of unused painkillers so that other people don't take them.
For people trying to prevent and treat addiction, the bill increases the availability of naloxone, which reverses overdoses, and helps prescription drug monitoring programs. These are all efforts encouraged by the American Medical Association opioid task force.
This could be a major step to slow the opioid epidemic. A vast majority of substance abuse addiction is under-treated, according to a new report from DrugTreatment.com.
The report shows that the national average of drug addiction being treated is just 19.7 percent, leaving over 80 percent of addiction untreated.
In nine states, more than 90 percent of people with addiction are not treated, according to the report.
Some governors are also attempting to tackle the opioid crisis. At the National Governors Association winter meeting in February, the Health and Human Services Committee, spurred by Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, agreed to put together prescribing guidelines.
Although the Senate passing this bill was a good step, there is still a ways to go. The House of Representatives may not pass a companion bill, the New York Times reported, as it currently has low support.
Citations: New York Times