The opioid epidemic was recently designated a national public health emergency by President Trump. That designation means that the federal government will allocate funds toward ending the epidemic, which was said to be responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people in 2016 alone.

According to the CDC, the amount of opioid-related deaths jumped up 200 percent from 2000 to 2014. Now, data shows that at least 91 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose. The epidemic had been brewing for a while, and while some steps were taken to stem the epidemic—reducing the amount of opioids prescribed being one of them—they were never entirely successful.

While the emergency declaration will hopefully allow the federal and local governments to remain engaged with the epidemic to find a long-term solution, there are steps that we can take with the people in our lives to identify opioid abuse, volunteer, donate and advocate in support of the epidemic’s end.

Take prescribed opioids as infrequently as possible.

See if your doctor knows of any possible alternatives to the opioid drug—whether a less addictive drug or something non-chemical altogether.

Dispose of prescription drugs properly.

Throw away your leftover medications. This will keep them from falling into the wrong hands or from being taken incorrectly.

Advocate for more open access to addiction treatment.

There are many more barriers to getting treatment for a drug abuse problem than there are to accessing the drugs themselves. According to Andrew Kolodny, an opioid policy expert at Brandeis University, in a conversation with Vox, New York City fought against tobacco addiction by making tobacco much less accessible and offering free nicotine patches or gum.

Volunteer or contribute to an anti-addiction organization.

Organizations like Young People in Recovery, Heroes in Recovery and Facing Addiction advocate on behalf of the people and their families who are dealing with addiction.

 

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