The United States continues to experience an epidemic of drug overdose deaths. Around 78 Americans die from an opioid overdose every day. Since 2000, the rate of deaths from drug overdoses has increased 137 percent, including a 200 percent increase in the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (opioid pain relievers and heroin).
Many of these deaths were caused by the use of illegal opioids such as heroin but more than half of the fatalities involved a legal prescription opioid. Prescribing these drugs has dramatically increased, healthcare providers wrote more than 259 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2012, that’s a bottle of pills for every adult American.
The nation’s top researchers, law enforcement experts, and policy makers will discuss the crisis in Atlanta at the end of March. It’s the fifth annual Rx Drug Abuse Summit and this year the word heroin was added to the title to acknowledge the emerging heroin crisis.
The 2016 National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit is the largest national collaboration of federal, state, and local professionals and advocates trying to address the prescription drug problem. This year, President Obama will speak at the summit underlining the urgency of the crisis. This follows the President’s visit to West Virginia last year where he announced new public and private sector actions to address the epidemic.
The Obama administration sent letters to the governors of all 50 states, asking them to adopt best practices in combating the nation's drug epidemic, said Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced $94 million in funding to 271 health centers across the country to expand substance abuse services. President Obama has requested another $1.1 billion from Congress to continue such programs.
More than 1,500 people have registered for the summit in Atlanta.