Before Patrick Morrison worked for the International Association of Fire Fighters, he was a firefighter himself. He’s experienced the horrifying and profoundly saddening events that first responders see every day. And like many other firefighters, he turned to alcohol to deal with the accumulating mental trauma.
By now, the enormity of America’s opioid abuse and overdose epidemic is common knowledge. With 78 Americans dying every day from an opioid overdose and with enough painkillers prescribed to give just about every U.S. adult their own bottle of pills, there’s hardly a community that’s gone untouched by the deadly problem. And a new study reminds us that we’ll be dealing with the aftermath far into the future.
In 2014, more than 28,000 people in the U.S. died from an opioid overdose. That same year, more Americans died from drug overdoses than during any other year on record, with the escalating numbers fueled by opioid abuse. Solutions to the problem are as complex as the epidemic itself, however a recent study pointed to one tool that can make a significant difference: prescription drug monitoring programs.
Every day in the U.S., more than 40 people die after overdosing on prescription painkillers. Deaths from a more notorious form of opiates — heroin — increased five-fold between 2001 and 2013. Addressing this problem — one that’s often described as a public health crisis — requires action on many fronts, from preventing abuse in the first place to getting those addicted into treatment. But when it comes to overdoses, there’s one answer we know works: naloxone.
Recent pieces address President Obama's remarks on events in Ferguson, an Obamacare program that works but is shutting down, retail workers' pay, and more.
By Sara Satinsky: Should pregnant women who use drugs be charged as criminals or given help? From a public health perspective the choice is clear: provide treatment to help women quit drugs before their use harms their child. Less than a year ago, Tennessee adopted a progressive policy to provide such treatment, but now is on the brink of taking a big step back.
The Washington Post provides in-depth coverage on issues facing veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan; an unprecedented release of Medicare data gives reporters a lot to work with; and journalists consider how West Virginia's reliance on a few industries has influenced the state's response to contaminated water and drug addiction.
Imprecise and potentially shaming terms like "drug abuse" can interfere with treating diseases of addiction, explain Linda Richter and Susan E. Foster in a piece in the Journal of Public Health Policy.
"If you really look at how pain affects people and what it means to have pain...you start to view it more as a social phenomenon." These are words from Dr. Daniel Carr, who says the time for a population-based approach doesn't begin with misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers; it begins, in fact, with how we interpret the contributors to pain in the first place.
Since 2000, overdose deaths due to prescription painkillers in Utah have increased by more than 400 percent. By 2006, more Utahans were losing their lives to prescription drug overdoses than to motor vehicle crashes. For Dr. Lynn Webster, a longtime pain management physician, the startling numbers were a call to action.