Artists For Addicts Presents: Recent Government Response to the Opioid Epidemic

259 million prescriptions for painkillers were prescribed in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that is enough to give every American adult a bottle of pills.  As the government has increased monitoring and regulation of prescription opioids, many addicted patients are turning to heroin because it’s cheaper and easier to get.  The CDC says heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013.  And, according to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine: every 25 minutes there is a baby born suffering from heroin addiction.

The Department of Health and Human Services has declared an Opioid Epidemic.  “More people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record, and the majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involved an opioid.” You can read more about HHS’s declaration here. They have made Prevention, treatment, research, and effective responses to rapidly reverse opioid overdoses are critical to fighting the epidemic a top priority.

A year ago, the White House budget requested from Congress $1.1 billion to expand access to treatment, and prevent opioid misuse and abuse.

According to USA Today, this funding was to include:

  • $920 million to support cooperative agreements with states to expand access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders. 
  • $50 million in National Health Service Corps funding to expand access to about 700 substance use treatment providers. 
  • $30 million to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment programs using medication-assisted treatment and help identify opportunities to improve treatment for patients with opioid use disorders.
  • About $500 million to build on efforts at the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services to expand state prescription overdose prevention strategies, increase the availability of medication-assisted treatment programs, improve access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone, and support enforcement activities.

Although that funding was not approved, good news came in July of 2016, when the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act was signed into law. According to the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (, this is the first major federal addiction legislation in 40 years, and the most comprehensive effort undertaken to address the opioid epidemic, encompassing all six pillars necessary for such a coordinated response:

  1. prevention
  2. treatment
  3. recovery
  4. law enforcement
  5. criminal justice reform
  6. overdose reversal.

Good news came again in December of 2016 when the Cures Act was approved and along with 4.8 billion in funds for medical research, and $500 million for the FDA, there’s also $1 billion approved to fight the opioid epidemic.

The Opioid Epidemic is still a growing crisis.  Join the Artists For Addicts Movement. Visit us on Facebook and join the conversation their or comment below. We propose a new, more compassionate and effective way to view addiction; as a massive opportunity to heal, grow and transform as a human being. Our Mission is to harness the creative power of art as a force for good and provide direction to recovery strategies that work.