The Epidemic

The Epidemic 

Over the last few years the United States has entered the opioid and heroin epidemic. Recently in the last year, there has been a peak in overdoses. We have all seen on the news the videos of parents overdosing in their vehicles while their child is in the backseat. Unfortunately, this epidemic is a lot worse than many people realize.

In a West Virginia town there were 27 people who overdosed in a 5 hour period. Closer to home, the Midwest is leading the nation at 4.3 overdose deaths per 100,000 people. That’s a 600% increase in the last decade. Recently, in August, there were 174 heroin overdoses in 6 days in Cincinnati. Milwaukee County is on track to see 200% more Fentanyl related deaths this year than last year. Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate similar to Morphine and can be 40 to 50 times more powerful than street heroin. As of July 1st, 39 people have died from a Fentanyl related overdose; that’s 9 more Fentanyl deaths during the entire 2015 year, which was a record. There were 12 overdose deaths just over the Labor Day weekend this year. In Milwaukee County there were 888 residents who died from a heroin or opiate overdose between 2012 and 2015. Currently, there have been over 200 overdose deaths this year. The breakdown is about 180 narcotic type substance deaths and 88 heroin overdose deaths; 6 of those heroin overdose deaths were within a 24 hour span and 16 of those were in a span of a week in July. The average age of the overdose deaths are people in their 30s.

On July 22, 2016, President Obama signed into legislation the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). This is the first major federal addiction legislation in 40 years. It addresses the six pillars of the opioid epidemic. The six pillars are: prevention, treatment, recovery, law enforcement, criminal justice reform and overdose reversal. There will be over $181 million each year in funding to fight the opioid and heroin epidemic. President Obama designated September 18-September 24 of this year as Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week. Raising awareness with reforms like the CARA act will hopefully bring a decrease in overdose deaths for 2017. Now is the time to spread the word in hopes we can help bring change to Milwaukee.