The Opioid Epidemic

The dangers of opioids grabbed national headlines recently following the death of pop star Prince, who died from an accidental overdose of the opioid fentanyl. The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, was in Arizona this week to speak about the growing opioid epidemic.

From the Arizona Daily Sun:

“We need to change how our country thinks about addiction,” Murthy said. “There are, in fact, many communities that don’t want medication assisted treatment facilities in their neighborhoods because they worry that it’s going to bring bad people.”

It’s time to think of addiction as a chronic illness rather than a moral failure, he said.

During his stop in Phoenix on Monday, Dr. Murthy said he will be issuing the first surgeon general’s report on substance abuse, addiction and health later this year. He says he hopes the report will persuade the public to view addiction as a chronic disease that deserves treatment and compassion.

Earlier this year, the Arizona Republic ran a story on the growing number of drug overdoses in our state.

Arizona Hospital Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) Community Affairs Director Shayna Diamond tweeted a short video as the surgeon general talked about how to use Naloxone, a medication used to block the effects of opioids, to potentially save someone’s life if they are suffering from an overdose.


The American Hospital Association (AHA) teamed up with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to release a one-page resource guide to help hospital patients, who may be prescribed opioids before discharge, discuss the risks and benefits of these medications. According to a recent AHA newsletter story, (nationally) there were more than 14,000 prescription opioid overdose deaths in 2014 alone, with more than 1,000 emergency department visits every day for prescription opioid misuse.

Share your thoughts on how Arizona can battle the opioid epidemic. Finding innovative solutions to today’s most difficult health issues is another way we are working to one day make Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!


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