Substance Abuse in the National News

The Washington Post describes the ongoing "opioid overdose epidemic" that is becoming progressively worse in our Nation. According to federal health officials, a recent report shows that the number of deaths from heroin overdoses surged by 28 percent in 2014, and fatal overdoses from prescription painkillers climbed by 16.3 percent. Deaths due to both heroin and prescription opioids made up the majority of the 47,055 fatal drug overdoses last year.

The CDC reports that prescription painkiller overdoses are a growing epidemic among women especially, with deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses among women having increased more than 400% since 1999, compared to 265% among men. Sadly, 18 women die every day of a prescription painkiller overdose in the US. In your counties, you can work to inform providers of these issues. The CDC recommends that when prescribing painkillers, health care providers can do the following:

  • Recognize that women are at risk of prescription painkiller overdose.
  • Follow guidelines for responsible prescribing, including screening and monitoring for substance abuse and mental health problems.
  • Use prescription drug monitoring programs to identify patients who may be improperly obtaining or using prescription painkillers and other drugs.

What else can you do in your LHJ's?

Participate in various learning experiences to become better equipped to serve the MCH population in relation to substance abuse issues by taking part in a free training such as this one that defines neonatal abstinence and discusses incidence and signs of withdrawal associated with various drugs.