December 31, 2016

The New War on Drugs: Fighting the Opioid Epidemic from the Statehouse Steps

Michael Kilpatrick Morton, Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau, Carson City, NV

The opioid epidemic in the United States has reached new highs in recent years. In 2014, deaths resulting from an opioid overdose, including prescription painkillers and heroin, accounted for over 28,500 deaths in the United States, which amounts to a 14-percent increase from the prior year.1 In 2012, almost 22,000 babies were born experiencing opioid withdrawals, which equates to one newborn every 24 minutes.2 The cost of treating those affected newborns was estimated at $1.5 billion annually.3 Michael Botticelli, the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, emphasized the Administration’s commitment to curbing the epidemic, stating, "Expanding access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid-use disorders has been a top priority for this administration. Research clearly shows that this approach, when combined with behavioral therapies, is more effective at sustaining recovery and preventing overdose."4

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