It's no secret that heroin and opiate abuse have drawn much attention in recent years. Overdose rates as a result of abusing these substances have risen dramatically. The problem has become so severe that it has attracted the attention of the nation's top law enforcement official, Attorney General Eric Holder. States are undertaking efforts to combat the problem before it can get worse.
The latest example of a state taking action is Massachusetts, where Governor Deval Patrick has declared a health emergency in his state in response to the troubling rise in heroin addictions that has affected the nation. As part of the emergency, Patrick has ordered hospitals and medical facilities to make available overdose reversal drugs such as naxolone, more commonly known by the brand name Narcan. First responders will now be universally permitted to carry naxolone, and the drug will also be put on "standing order" at pharmacies to be given to families who fear that a loved one may be at risk of overdosing.
In his statement declaring the emergency, Patrick noted that heroin overdoses have risen 90 percent between the period 2000-2012. He also remarked that one of the reasons for the increasing frequency may be that drug dealers are combining the heroin with other substances to increase their profits and make the drug more potent.
As part of the state emergency, Patrick has made an additional $20 million available for addiction and recovery services and has urged state EMS and law enforcement agencies to train their staffs to handle overdose cases more effectively. He has also called for a temporary ban on prescriptions of hydrocodone-only painkillers, misuse of which has also grown considerably. Physicians and pharmacies will now be required to undertake prescription monitoring, which had previously been a voluntary state program.
"These actions will help slow the rise of this dangerous addiction," Cheryl Bartlett, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Commissioner, said in a press release. "Together, these steps will raise awareness in our communities, help save loved ones who tragically fall down from their disease and build important bridges to long-term recovery."
If you have a loved one struggling with addiction, the best way to help them is to convince them to enroll in a drug addiction treatment center, where they can focus on recovery and rebuild their life anew. At Fairwinds Treatment Center in Clearwater, Florida, we specialize in a dual diagnosis treatment method developed by Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef, which is designed to identify the underlying causes of your loved one's addiction. This will lead them on a more sustainable path to recovery, and make it much less likely for relapse to occur in the future.