Altadena, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 02/26/2014 -- U.S. officials target to reduce the incidence of addiction from heroin and prescription painkillers. This is due to the rising death toll of substance abuse as seen from recent records.
According to Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, "The use of opioids -- a group of drugs that includes heroin and prescription painkillers -- is having a devastating impact on public health and safety in communities across the nation.” He added, "In 2010, approximately 100 Americans died from overdoses every day"
The data showed that there are about 16,600 deaths in 2010 due to prescription painkillers and 3,000 are seen from heroin use. These figures surpass the cases of murder and car crash in the United States. In fact, the use of heroin soared over the past few years. In 2007, 373,000 people were seen using heroin and it soared high in 2012, where 669,000 heroin users were observed. This is due to the fact that heroin becomes more available and relatively more affordable.
“Heroin is an opioid, as is morphine and commonly prescribed painkillers like hydrocodone and oxycodone,” said Dr. Wilson Compton, the deputy director of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse. He said, "These are all classified as opioids because they exert their effect by attaching to the opioid receptor found in our brain and spinal cord."
He added, "Opioids also cause pleasurable sensations. It's through that mechanism that abuse can result in physical dependency and addiction. These functions can be slowed to such an extent that they often result in a coma or death.”
In relation to that, Kerlikowske said, "Many individuals who develop a substance abuse disorder or who overdose begin by misusing prescription drugs. It is clear we are not going to arrest our way out of this problem. Science has shown that drug addiction is a disease of the brain -- a disease that can be prevented, treated and from which one can recover."
With that, the government is taking initiative to reduce the rate of heroin and painkiller use. Kerlikowske recommended the police and the EMTs to be the most concerned individuals in pursuing this effort. He said, "Saving a life is more important than making an arrest."
The efforts to eliminate drug use and abuse have to be made, not by government alone but by private individuals, as well. With the help of concerned citizens, drug abuse can gradually be eradicated, saving the lives of many people. For more information, visit http://www.paxhouse.org/.