President Proclaims Opioid Awareness Week

In order to shine a spotlight on the skyrocketing numbers of opioid-related overdoses, President Obama today declared the nation’s first Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week. Since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids, including prescription opioid pain relievers, heroin, and fentanyl, has nearly quadrupled. Today, more people die from overdoses than traffic accidents, and the majority of those overdoses are opioid-related.

In his proclamation, the president highlighted that misconceptions and stigmas surround those who struggle with an opioid use disorder or other substance use disorder. “Too often, we expect people struggling with substance use disorders to self-diagnose and seek treatment,” he wrote. “Although we have made great strides in helping more Americans access care, far too many still lack appropriate, evidence-based treatment.”

Opioid use disorder, or addiction to prescription opioids or heroin, is a disease that affects communities nationwide. Every day, over 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids. The results of this crisis are not only shattering families but are also straining the capacity of both law enforcement and the health care system. The president’s proclamation specifically lauded public health and safety professionals for forging new partnerships across the country. He also called for Congress to provide an additional $1.1 billion in funding to expand access to treatment programs, increase access to the overdose-antidote naloxone, improve opioid prescribing practices and support targeted enforcement activity.

This presidential proclamation also publicizes the gravity of what is nationally being recognized as a burgeoning epidemic: “We pause to remember all those we have lost to opioid use disorder, we stand with the courageous individuals in recovery, and we recognize the importance of raising awareness of this epidemic.”

To read the full proclamation, click here: