A number of major media outlets have taken it upon themselves, and for good reason, to shine a light on prescription opioid and heroin abuse. For over a decade now, our nation has been severely affected by the opioid epidemic, a crisis that takes over 70 lives a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While health agencies and lawmakers are working hard to increase access to both the life saving overdose reversal drug naloxone and addiction treatment, there is still a lot more that needs to be done to combat the calamity.
This week, the United States Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). If the bill passes in the House, the legislation will give the Attorneys General the power to award grants to address the national epidemics of prescription opioid abuse and heroin use. The funding will be used for strengthening a number of programs and initiatives, including: addiction education and prevention, prescription drug monitoring and treatment.
CARA is just one effort among a multifaceted interagency approach to addressing the opiate epidemic. The White House, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, et al., are all committed to saving lives and providing access to substance use disorder treatment. What’s more, there is still a lot that the American public does not understand about the drug crisis and the true scope of the disease of addiction.
Last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) along with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) released a film: “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict”. The film was created mainly for young Americans, and was essentially a call to action for the public to take part in ending the opioid epidemic. Towards the end of February, PBS aired a new “Frontline” documentary “Chasing Heroin.” The film is nearly 2 hours long, and took a year to film. The documentary covers a number of elements of the epidemic, but perhaps the most interesting aspect was the coverage of how law enforcement is addressing the problem. Police officers are acting as social workers and not jail taxis, instead of slapping on the handcuffs they are referring addicts to addiction treatment services. You can watch a short clip below or watch the full documentary by clicking here.
Tonight, ABC News will air a special edition of “20/20” at 10 p.m. ET. “Breaking Point: Heroin in America.” The report covers the ongoing heroin epidemic in New Hampshire.
“When you realize that nearly everyone you meet has been touched by the drug in some way, that’s really eye-opening,” said David Muir. “It helps begin a conversation out there, and the more we can be part of the conversation, the better.”
We hope that everyone, whether the opioid epidemic has touched you or not, will take time to watch the important documentaries. We can all have a hand in the solution to this insidious problem.