It’s not just Florida and the Suncoast dealing with the problem of opioid abuse. A new report from federal health officials presents a sobering story that shows we’re not alone.
Opioid abuse around the nation has reached epidemic levels, with states such as Ohio and West Virginia hit especially hard.
“This is probably the worst drug situation in our country in decades if not a century,” Dr. Wilson Compton of the National Institute on Drug Abuse said.
In 2015, nearly 92 million Americans used a prescription opioid, more than 11 million reported misusing opioids, and 2 million admitted they were addicted, with deaths up four times higher between 1999 and 2015.
The study shows those most likely to misuse opioids include people with low incomes, the unemployed and under-insured.
“They’re people at risk for not having full access to health care, so we think that’s part of a club here,” Compton said.
The research also finds that almost half of those who misuse opioids get them from family and friends.
In one of the hardest hit areas — the state of Ohio — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions unveiled a new program aimed at reducing drug overdoses. The opioid fraud and abuse detection unit will track down physicians and health care providers that illegally prescribe painkillers.
“We cannot capitulate intellectually or morally to this kind of rampant drug use,” Sessions said. “We must create a culture that is hostile to drug abuse.”
Fighting an epidemic that is stretching from coast to coast.
“In the face of the worst drug crisis in our history, we need to use every lawful tool we have and we will,” Sessions said,”but I’m convinced that this prescription drug abuse effort is a winnable war.”