It is no secret that the United States is suffering from a heroin and opioid epidemic, with mass overdoses and deaths happening every day. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that, “Approximately 4.5 million people in the United States were non-medical prescription pain reliever users in 2013, and an estimated 289,000 were current heroin users. HHS also estimates the number of unintentional overdose deaths from prescription pain medications has nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2013, and deaths related to heroin increased 39 percent between 2012 and 2013.” Luckily, there is enough awareness of this crisis that there is finally action being taken at the political level to attempt to give addicts a fighting chance at recovery.

Help Is On the Way

Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, a former admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and the current Surgeon General of the United States, made an announcement on March 11, 2014, that granted a total of $94 million in federal funding for comprehensive, medication-assisted treatment, particularly for opiate addictions (stemming from the Affordable Care Act). This funding will go to 271 medical centers in 45 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Approximately 124,000 addicted patients are expected to benefit from this expansion in treatment availability. The funds will:

  • Increase the number of patients screened for substance use disorders and connecting more people to treatment
  • Increase the number of patients with access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use and other other addiction treatment
  • Provide training and educational resources to help medical professionals make informed prescribing decisions

In the announcement, Murty stated, “”The bottom line is this: Addressing the opioid epidemic is a public health priority of the highest order. A key part of that is supporting treatment. A key part of that is also making sure we change how this country thinks about addiction. We must help people understand that addiction is not a moral failing, but it’s a chronic illness that we have to treat with urgency, with skill and with compassion.” Well said, sir.

Funding in Maryland

A total of 5 health centers in Maryland will receive a total of $1.8 million, which is a beacon of hope for many sick and suffering addicts in the state. The centers that will receive the funding are the Baltimore Medical System ($406,250) and Total Health Care ($325,000) in Baltimore, The Community Clinic ($378,604) in Silver Spring, Greater Baden Medical Services ($379,167) in Brandywine, and Chase Brexton ($300,000), which has locations in Glen Burnie, Easton, Columbia, Randallstown, and Baltimore. Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore’s health commissioner, acknowledged that while expanding access to Naloxone is critical, we also need to be treating the underlying addiction, and believes that this funding is a large step in the right direction.

Help is Waiting

If you or someone you know needs addiction treatment, call the treatment professionals at Serenity Acres today 1-800-203-2024 for a free, confidential assessment.