Opioid Addiction in the United States
By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ May 30, 2016
Recently, the Obama administration announced that it would ask Congress to allocate $1.1 billion for combating opioid addiction, specifically prescription painkiller and heroin abuse. The funds would be used to expand treatment facilities nationwide, help eliminate illegal sales, and improve access to naloxone, a drug that can save the lives of those who have overdosed.
Opioid Use in the United States
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prescription drugs and heroin are involved in as many as 28,648 deaths a year in America, and the numbers are on the rise. As part of his proposal, the president asked Congress to allocate around $460 million to the states to help establish medication-assisted treatment programs. Under this plan, each state would receive funding based on need as well as the strength of the strategy designed for combatting the problem.
The request is not the first step the current administration has taken to address opioid addiction. Last October, the president issued a memorandum that requires federal doctors to undergo additional training in how and when to prescribe opioid-based drugs. Two months later, he also signed a budget agreement that allocated $400 million to improving treatment and rehabilitation, an increase of over $100 million from last year.
Still, many critics claim that the government is not going far enough in its efforts. However, striking a balance between preventing addicts from inappropriately being prescribed painkillers and ensuring that patients with actual life-threatening problems and severe pain can still receive the drugs they need has proved extremely difficult. But if President Obama’s most recent State of the Union address is any indication, it seems likely that his administration will continue to take steps toward forming a comprehensive response aimed at helping people struggling with prescription drug addiction and heroin abuse.
While opioids temporarily create a feeling of euphoria in the user, a variety of much less pleasant symptoms occur once the initial high has passed, including:
- Dry mouth;
- Flushed skin;
- Heaviness in the extremities;
- Severe itching;
- Clouded mental function;
- Decreased heart rate; and
- Slowed respiration.
These short-term symptoms make it extremely dangerous for anyone under the influence of an excessive amount of opioids to operate an automobile or make rational decisions. Heroin overdoses can be life-threatening, resulting in comas, permanent brain damage, and even death.
Opioid Addiction and Personal Injury
Being under the influence of opioids significantly limits a person’s ability to think rationally. This can have devastating consequences when someone with an addiction gets behind the wheel and causes an accident in which another person is injured or even killed. Injuries sustained in car accidents can have permanent effects and may require lifelong treatment and rehabilitation, and multiple surgeries.
This is both painful and expensive, and can be traumatic for not only the injured party, but for his or her family as well. When a person’s reckless decision to drive while under the influence results in an injury-causing accident, he or she can be held liable for medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Call an Attorney Today
If you have suffered an injury or lost a loved one due to a driver’s decision to operate a vehicle while under the influence of opioids, you may be able to receive compensation for your losses. Please contact a dedicated and experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney at Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., for a free initial consultation.