Overdose Deaths Drop Sharply in States Hard Hit by Opioid Crisis
“The nation’s deadly opioid epidemic shows signs of ebbing as the Trump administration Oct. 30 reported a 5.1% drop in overdose deaths, with sharper declines in some of the most hard-hit states,” Shira Stein reports. The new figures reveal “a 24% reduction in Ohio, 17% in Kentucky, and 9% in West Virginia, White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway said.”
Over 72,000 people died of a drug overdose in 2017, and 40,000 of those were caused by opioid overdoses, according to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Curbing the deadly epidemic has been a top priority for President Donald Trump.
Administration officials also reported declines in overdose deaths in Pennsylvania (23%), Iowa (19%), and New Hampshire (11%).
The administration is also seeing an 378% increase in prescriptions of the overdose reversal drug naloxone, a 31% decrease in opioid prescriptions, and a 28% increase in the amount of people receiving medication-assisted treatment, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on the call.
Medication-assisted treatment combines medication and behavioral therapy in helping people recover from opioid use disorder.
The officials’ remarks came as they also touted the relaunch of a government website aimed at helping patients and their families find treatment for substance use disorder.
The website, findtreatment.gov, can be customized to the type of insurance a patient has and the type of treatment patients need. It includes information on programs with special ability to help veterans and LGBT people.
The tool only includes facilities that are licensed and regulated by the states, a senior administration official said on the call.
It will also include information about addiction, mental illness, and understanding the cost of treatment.
Associated Press: “White House Launches Website Aimed at Addiction Treatment”
The Trump administration has unveiled a website aimed at helping millions of Americans with substance abuse issues learn about and locate treatment options.
FindTreatment.gov is the latest development in the administration’s effort to address the nation’s opioid crisis. The White House said it believes the site, which went up Wednesday, will enable the tens of millions of Americans with a variety of substance abuse and mental health issues to better access the care they need.
Kellyanne Conway, the counselor to President Donald Trump who is leading the White House response to the drug crisis, said the site is designed to provide “connectivity” between treatment providers and those who need help.
FindTreatment.gov modernizes an obscure directory of 13,000 licensed treatment providers maintained by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, adding user-friendly search criteria and tools. For instance, it will now allow users to search based on the type of treatment sought — such as inpatient, detox or telemedicine — by payment option and whether the treatment is medication-assisted.
Users also will be able to select between options that focus on youth, veterans and LGBT Americans.
The website also is meant to be an educational resource for those needing care and their loved ones with information on how to pay for treatment.
“We know that the drug crisis is indiscriminate, so we want the response to be indiscriminate,” Conway said.
The website was built in-house by government coders and is managed by the White House. The administration is calling FindTreatment.gov an example of “American-First design” that offers easy access to information without breaking the federal budget.
“We designed it with human-centered principles in mind,” Conway said. “We used real words for real people.”
The effort included employing a language expert for help with providing “destigmatizing” explanations for treatment options to make them more acceptable to those in need.
The site’s design was informed by more than 300 user feedback responses and 60 detailed interviews with those who have sought treatment, their family members and providers, the White House said.
The website builds on other efforts by the White House to address the drug crisis, including law enforcement efforts, securing billions of dollars from Congress for treatment and working with the private sector on promoting drug “take back” days.
More than 70,000 Americans died in 2017 from drug overdoses, the bulk of them involving opioids.
Future developments include plans to more closely integrate the site with the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide more targeted resources to the community of former service members.