With an historic rise in fatal drug overdoses nationwide and a new president in the White House, the future is uncertain for programs trying to combat a growing public health crisis: opioid addiction.
- On the chopping block? The New York Times recently reported the White House might eliminate the Office of National Drug Control Policy. In response, advocacy groups, along with the Fraternal Order of Police, sent letters asking the Trump administration to keep the office intact.
- White House says: “The President and his cabinet are working collaboratively to create a leaner, more efficient government that does more with less of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars.”
- Former U.S. drug czar Michael Botticelli says eliminating the office “would not save money because without a single office who’s coordinating drug policy across the federal government, it will only create a very haphazard, inefficient approach.”
Why it matters: Opioid overdose deaths are on the rise. More than 33,000 people died in 2015 alone after consuming a controlled substance, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- The numbers: More people die of drug overdose than in car accidents, and heroin kills more people than handguns, the CDC reported.
- The pattern: More than 20 million people abuse substances, and of those, only one out of 10 receive needed addiction treatment.
One city’s story: Baltimore is one of thousands of communities across the country waiting to see what the administration decides to do.
- For decades, the city has confronted opioid and heroin abuse and addiction. Today, 25,000 of 620,000 residents have an opioid disorder, according to one estimate.
- Maryland’s drug overdose death rate ranked 14th nationwide in 2015 — up 20 percent from the previous year.
- Seven out of 10 drug overdose deaths in Maryland take place in Baltimore.
Public Health Commissioner Leana Wen wrote a citywide prescription to naloxone, an opioid antidote that can reverse a potentially fatal overdose in minutes, to all city residents in 2015. Two years later, we talk to health workers and recovering addicts about what’s working in Charm City and what they think about the future.