As part of the ongoing federal war on drug, Attorney General Jeff Sessions inaugurated a Department of Justice pilot program in Ohio, one of the states hit hard by the opioid epidemic, on Aug. 3, 2017. The program will focus on investigating the opioid-related scams and frauds in the health care industry across the United States. Additionally, 12 federal prosecutors who have been assigned to the unit will utilize data to examine crime involving opioids and prosecute the perpetrators.
Sessions introduced the new federal unit while addressing a gathering at the Columbus Police Academy. Under the pilot program – the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit to counter the menace of the ongoing opioid epidemic which is ravaging the nation, 12 districts will be covered by the new opioid task force. These include the Eastern District of California, which comprises the Sacramento, Modesto and Fresno divisions.
In the recent years, the state of California has borne the brunt of the opioid epidemic. From wealthy suburbs to the towns dotting the Mexican border, medical professionals across the state have been struggling to curb the problem of drug overdoses owing to the widespread abuse of opioids, heroin and various designer drugs. The other 11 districts include Southern Ohio, Central Florida, Eastern Michigan, Northern Alabama, Eastern Tennessee, Nevada, Eastern Kentucky, Maryland, Western Pennsylvania, Central North Carolina, and South West Virginia.
In his speech, Sessions admitted that some government officials might have erroneously conveyed mixed messages undermining the harmful nature of prescription opioids. Nevertheless, he said, “We cannot capitulate intellectually or morally unto this kind of rampant drug abuse. We must create a culture that’s hostile to drug abuse.”
Sessions attributed the spike in opioid addiction to the fraudulent practices followed by corrupt pharmacists and doctors nationwide who prescribe opioids for profit. “We will reverse these devastating trends with every lawful tool we have,” he said in a determined, and unwavering manner.
However, some Democrats criticized Sessions’ initiative citing the non-availability of additional treatment options to combat the crisis. Mandy McClure, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee said that recent budget proposals of President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans and the sustained efforts to repeal Obamacare were most likely to worsen the ongoing opioid epidemic.
Opioid crisis in California
Calling for decisive action against this problem, The Bakersfield Californian, the daily newspaper serving Bakersfield and surrounding Kern County described the opioid epidemic as “one of the worst healthcare crises California has ever seen.” Nevertheless, 2014 witnessed the maximum number of overdose deaths in comparison to any other state in the country with one fatal overdose every 45 minutes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 4,500 opioid overdose deaths in California in 2014, which indicated a 50 percent increase from the 2002 figures.
More and more Californians are increasingly falling prey to the lure of prescription opioids, especially teens and adults in their early to mid-twenties who are unaware of the bigger dangers. Lack of knowledge about the side effects of opioids and the perils of exceeding the prescribed doses seem to be the reason for the surge in rates of addiction across the Golden state. Moreover, doctors statewide are largely to be blamed for not advising patients about adequate disposal methods for unused medications and the possible odds of opioid use disorder and dependence.
Studies suggest about 60 percent of the opioid addicts were handed their first opioid pills either by a physician, dentist, or managed to get it from a family member’s medicine cabinet. Besides, many addicts never knew they could refuse a prescription or request something non-addictive.
Several medical specialty societies such as the California Academy of Family Physicians (CAFP) have been making continuous efforts to educate physicians about best prescribing practices and appropriate diagnosis procedures to help patients manage painful conditions in a safe and efficient manner. Together, doctors, patients and pharmacists can play a critical role in identifying and preventing any unauthorized use of prescription opioids. Efforts must be made to include more evidence-based screening tools as an integral part of any consultation process, besides highlighting the use of nonopioid medications and other alternative forms of treatment.
Opioid addiction is treatable
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that doctors writing millions of prescriptions for painkillers has aggravated the opioid epidemic. In fact, nearly half of all opioid overdose fatalities in the country involve a prescription opioid. Besides, in 2015, more than 15,000 people died from prescription drug overdoses involving opioids.
Sadly, innumerable Americans succumb to addiction more quickly than they might ever realize. The only way to regain sobriety is to undergo an individualized prescription drug addiction treatment program at a reputed drug addiction rehab to combat the life-wrecking effects of harmful opioids.
Sovereign Health understands the plight of someone who is unable to discontinue the use of lethal prescription drugs despite the negative impact on his or her life. Our customized addiction recovery plans at Sovereign Health of San Clemente are designed to treat the person holistically. If you or your loved one is battling addiction to heroin or any prescription drug, call at our 24/7 helpline number or chat online to know about our state-of-art addiction treatment centers spread across California.