NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

White House plans Oklahoma forum about opioid epidemic

WASHINGTON _ The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy plans to hold a community forum in Oklahoma on Dec. 16 about the opioid epidemic. Details about the time and place will be released soon. It will be the first of the forums planned across the country on  the best ways to treat prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse.

Michael Botticelli, National Drug Control policy director, will host the forums, which will include perspectives from the public health and safety sectors and people directly affected by the drug abuse, the White House said.

“The president has made clear that the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic is a priority for this administration,” said Botticelli said.

“We have tools that we know are effective in reducing drug use and overdose, like evidence-based prevention programs, prescription drug monitoring, medication-assisted treatment and the overdose reversal drug naloxone. The forums will highlight local examples of how states and communities are using these and other tools, so their efforts can serve as models for others. We have lost too many children, parents, friends and neighbors to delay in making these tools available wherever they are needed.”

More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do in motor vehicle crashes, the White House office said, adding that Centers for Disease Control data from 2014 show continued sharp increases in heroin-involved deaths and an emerging increase in deaths involving synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.

According to the drug control office:

_ Prescription opioid-related deaths increased by 16%, or 2,658 deaths, compared to 2013 data. There were 18,893 overdose deaths involving prescription opioids.
_ Prescription opioid-related overdose deaths are increasing in part because deaths involving synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl and tramadol, increased by 79% from 2013-2014. About 5,544 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids in 2014.
_ Heroin-related death rates increased 28% from 2013-2014, totaling 10,574 deaths in 2014.

Chris Casteel

Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. Casteel covered the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City. From 1990 through 2016, he was the... Read more ›