Opioid Crisis Worsened During COVID-19; Time for Action is NOW

It is estimated that 90,000 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2020. This represents a 27 percent increase in drug overdose deaths from 2019 and is the largest single year spike in overdose deaths in the last two decades. On top of this, it will shatter all previous U.S. records for the number of Americans who have died of a drug overdose. In short, more Americans are dying from a drug overdose death today than ever before.

Opioids – both synthetic and natural – are the cause of this sudden and dramatic spike. In fact, 75 to 80 percent of all drug overdose deaths are the result of opioids. In 2020, 185 Americans died every day from an opioid overdose. This is a tragic – and utterly avoidable – phenomenon that requires urgent action of all of us now.

Over the past decade, Congress has dedicated hundred of billions of dollars to fighting the opioid crisis in America. Much of this support has gone towards programs to increase access to substance use disorder treatment, support for first responders, additional training for mental health professionals, and other, downstream attempts to treat people suffering from a substance use disorder or who are overdosing. On the other hand, relatively little attention has gone towards federal policy approaches to prevent the nearly four million Americans who go on to become chronic opioid users every year following a short-term pain incident.

We need solutions now that can prevent opioid addiction and, in the process, reduce the number of Americans who lose their lives every day to an opioid-related drug overdose. Fortunately, Congress is paying attention and agrees. That’s why there is legislation pending in Congress to prevent opioid addiction for short-term pain patients by increasing access to non-addictive, non-opioid pain management therapies. In doing so, Congress is working to help patients and providers have additional, safe, and effective options when it comes to treating their pain – and minimizing unnecessary risk of long-term opioid use following a short-term pain incident.

The legislation – the Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in the Nation (“NOPAIN”) Act – would go a long way towards preventing addiction in our country, but lawmakers need to hear from you about the need to enact this critical legislation. Click here to visit our website to learn more and to send a letter to your Member of Congress encouraging them to support the legislation.

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