Opioid and heroin awareness week

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WABASH VALLEY (WTHI) – Opioid addiction has become the most expensive health issue in the United States today. President Obama has declared this week as opioid and heroin awareness week to raise awareness and education for this epidemic.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of prescription painkillers has increased four times since 1999. In contrast, the level of pain reported by Americans has not increased.

This surplus of opioid painkillers has led to prescription drug abuse and heroin addiction. People addicted to prescription drugs and heroin are facing issues like depression, job loss, and even unintentional overdose.

According to the CDC, more people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than any other year. Unintentional overdose deaths have also quadrupled since 1999 in the United States.

This opioid epidemic is sweeping the country, and the Wabash Valley is no exception. Prevention facilities are overcrowded and underfunded according to local physician Randy Stevens.

So health professionals, law enforcement and educators are putting their brains together to find a solution.

“The problem is even though this is a huge issue medically, we deal with it on a daily basis,” said Wabash Valley physician Jim Turner. “We’re not doing a good job informing our young health professionals. So that’s going to be one of our new innovations so people can recognize the problem and learn how to refer someone in the right direction.”

Turner and Stevens are calling for recognition of the problem, education for prevention and money to fund these efforts.

For more information on understanding the opioid epidemic click here.

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