CDC grants $20M to 16 states for heroin epidemic, prescription drug overdose

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Sep 07, 2015 07:39 AM EDT

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have granted 16 states with funding to combat the drug epidemic and opioid prescription drug overdose deaths in the country.

The grant by the CDC is aimed to combat the growing drug epidemic in the country through the $20 million program called "Prescription Drug Overdose: Prevention For States." The Hill reports that the money will be used to develop electronic databases to monitor prescription drugs and to teach providers with proper pain medication prescription practices.

"The prescription drug overdose epidemic is tragic and costly, but can be reversed," said Dr. Tom Frieden, the CDC director in a published statement. "Because we can protect people from becoming addicted to opioids, we must take fast action now, with real-time tracking programs, safer prescribing practices, and rapid response.  Reversing this epidemic will require programs in all 50 states."

According to the data provided by the CDC, drug overdose in the country have increased by up to four times since 1999 with over 16,000 deaths in 2013. The most common prescription pain killers or opioids that cause most overdose deaths in the country include Hydrocodone (e.g. Vicodin), Oxymorphone (e.g. Opana), Methadone, and Oxycodone (e.g. OxyContin). The report added that 44 people in the US die from overdosage. The Pierce Pioneer also added that more than 8,000 have also died from heroin, a street opioid that is frequently abused by drug junkies.

According to The Weekly Observer, the use of prescription opioids for chronic health problems such as back pain or osteoarthritis has been observed by the CDC.

"People who take prescription painkillers can become addicted with just one prescription. Once addicted, it can be hard to stop," the CDC stated.

Opioids are drugs that are used to treat severe pain and taking too much can result to opioid intoxication. According to Healthline, the symptoms of opioid intoxication include slowed breathing, constricted pupils, extreme fatigue and changes in heart rate. Overdosing on opioids can lead to coma or death and must be treated as a medical emergency.

The 16 states that have been granted by the CDC include: California, Arizona, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Mexico, Illinois, Ohio, Oregon, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. The CDC stated that eight of the funded states are places with the highest drug overdose rates in the United States.

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