Thursday, February 06, 2014

CDC Classifies Overdoses From Opiates and Heroin As An Epidemic


It is amazing to me that in the President's State of the Union address, in Jon Stewart's interview with Nancy Pelosi, or in any of the other political coverage recently, not one mention has been made of what I consider to be two of the greatest challenges facing our country today: the number of children and adults who are killed by guns every day, and the heroin epidemic sweeping the country.  I can't understand how our elected officials can keep arguing about everything else and ignore this.


To the Editor:

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s tragic death puts a very public face on an epidemic health condition that is ravaging families across New York and the United States (“Actor’s Heroin Points to Surge in Grim Trade,” front page, Feb. 4).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has classified overdoses associated with prescription opiates and heroin as an epidemic. The loss of life and the impact on communities across the country have been front-page news. There is little debate that there is a significant cause for alarm.

Unfortunately, state legislatures and policy makers have failed to address this public health crisis with prevention, treatment and recovery supports adequate to reverse its impact.

We will make progress only when there is increased prevention and education targeting at-risk populations, widespread availability of Naloxone to reverse the symptoms of an overdose, treatment on demand and services to help people in recovery to stay in recovery. Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont is to be praised for his leadership on this issue. We need others to join him.

JOHN J. COPPOLA
Executive Director
Alcoholism and Substance Abuse
Providers of New York State
Albany, Feb. 4, 2014

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