Today is International Opioid Awareness Day

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Today is International Opioid Awareness Day
by Rep. French Hill
Log Cabin Democrat
August 31, 2022

In 2021, we lost 555 of our neighbors here in Arkansas to drug overdose. Across the nation, we lost over 107,000 Americans to drug overdose – this translates to a fatal overdose nearly every five minutes. Nearly two-thirds of these deaths are opioid-related.

Today is International Overdose Awareness Day. On this day, we remember those we lost due to opioid and other drug overdoses, show support to the family and friends these individuals left behind, and continue to rally behind those who are struggling today.

Over the last decade, we’ve seen opioid-related overdoses and deaths skyrocket. This is in part due to the prevalence of synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, that are being transported across our southwest border. The abundance of fentanyl in our communities is clear, with 90 percent of street drugs testing positive for fentanyl.

Fentanyl’s abundance in drugs found on the street should not come as a surprise. The synthetic opioid is roughly fifty times stronger than heroin, one hundred times stronger than morphine, and available for a fraction of the price. One sweetener packet filled with fentanyl has the potential to kill 500 people.

Nearly every American has been impacted by the opioid crisis, many of us having lost loved ones to overdose. Every day, I carry a sweetener packet in my pocket to remember these individuals who are more than just a statistic – they are our neighbors, our friends, our loved ones.

As a member of Congress, and someone who has lost too many young friends to overdose, it is our duty to work to combat the opioid crisis. This past June, my bill, H.R. 7681, the Preventing Overdoses and Saving lives Act 2.0, passed the House of Representatives as a part of a broader bipartisan mental health package.

My bill, which I was proud to introduce alongside Rep. Debbie Dingell (MI-12), will prevent opioid overdoses through co-prescription. Co-prescribing is when a doctor prescribes an opioid overdose reversal drug, such as naloxone, alongside an opioid prescription. This legislation was inspired by policy currently in effect here in Arkansas which has been proven effective and saved countless lives.

Here in Arkansas, there are numerous resources available to those interested in learning more about what to do in the event of an opioid overdose – including risk factors and signs of overdose. A new application for your smartphone, NARCANsas, provides the user with this information, as well as resources such as treatment and recovery centers.

As we come together to remember those we lost, we must also remember to continue working to ensure that we are playing our role in opioid and drug overdose prevention.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a medical emergency, such as an overdose, please call 911 immediately.

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