Alabama

President Obama: We must solve Alabama's heroin crisis

Kyle Nazario

knazario@ledger-enquirer.com

President Obama listens as Cary Dixon speaks of her struggles with her son's addiction during an event at the East End Family Resource Center in Charleston, W.Va., Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015. Obama was in Charleston to to host a community discussion on the prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic.
President Obama listens as Cary Dixon speaks of her struggles with her son's addiction during an event at the East End Family Resource Center in Charleston, W.Va., Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015. Obama was in Charleston to to host a community discussion on the prescription drug abuse and heroin epidemic. AP Photo

Barack Obama, writing in an exclusive editorial on AL.com:

As the use of prescription drugs has increased over the past 15 or 20 years, so has their misuse – as well as the wreckage caused by other opioids like heroin.  In fact, four in five heroin users started out by misusing prescription drugs, and then switched to heroin.  As a consequence, between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related deaths in America nearly quadrupled.  More Americans now die of drug overdoses than they do in motor vehicle crashes.  In Alabama, overdoses claimed 723 lives in 2014 alone.

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But we need to do more to help families like Cary's.  That's why the budget I'm sending to Congress includes $1.1 billion in new funding to stop the opioid overdose epidemic – funding to help every American seeking treatment get the care they need.  It will help states like Alabama expand their treatment capacity and make services more affordable.

The heroin problem around the country is no secret. Last fall the Ledger-Enquirer published a series documenting how the South is on the verge of a crisis. Heroin users are now mostly young white adults, many of them women. Cutting back after years of over-prescribing opioid painkillers has pushed many of these new users to heroin, a drug which takes a brutal toll on the body. It's also incredibly addictive and hard to quit. Solving the problem will require vigilance and coordination among all parts of the community.

Read the full editorial.

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