By Salvador Solorio
Journalism Guild Writer
President Obama is calling for $1.1 billion in new federal funding to combat growing heroin and prescription painkiller abuse problems.
Obama’s 2017 budget proposal will include $1 billion mandatory funding over two years to make addiction treatments more affordable, mcclatchydc.com reported Feb. 7.
Some $920 million would fund cooperative agreements with states to provide more drug-based treatment of addictions to painkilling opioids such as OxyContin, Percocet, hydrocodone and morphine, the story said.
“This is a problem destroying lives and families across America that needs to be addressed,” said Rep. Vern Buchannon (R-Fla.) “I strongly support efforts to fight the heroin and drug abuse epidemic in this country and look forward to reviewing the president’s proposal.”
In Florida, Manatee and Sarasota counties reported heroin overdoses more than doubled from 63 in 2014 to more than 150 in 2015. Manatee County’s heroin epidemic began in 2014, when police began seeing increased use of fentanyl, an opioid pain reliever 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Three out of four new heroin users reported abusing opioid pain relievers before using heroin.
Heroin overdoses in the U.S. soared from about 2,000 in 2002 to about 11,000 in 2014, the story reported.
About $50 million would fund expansion of services to roughly 700 drug treatment facilities and another $30 million will be used to evaluate drug treatment that provides medication-assisted treatment services.
About $500 million would expand overdose prevention efforts, provide more medication-assisted treatment of addicts, and improve access to naloxone – an emergency-use drug that reverses overdoses.
The money would target rural areas where opioid use and overdoses are increasing. The proposal would allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe the opioid-addiction treatment drug buprenorphine.
By Salvador Solorio