Obama declares this week as Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week

Heroin. (AP)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — President Obama has declared this week as Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week.

He is calling on Congress to provide $1.1 billion to expand access to treatment services for opioid use disorder.

“These new investments would build on the steps we have already taken to expand overdose prevention strategies and increase access to naloxone, the overdose reversal drug that first responders and community members are using to save lives. We are also working to improve opioid prescribing practices and support targeted enforcement activities,” Obama said in a proclamation. “Although Federal agencies will continue using all available tools to address opioid use disorder and overdose, the Congress must act quickly to help more individuals get the treatment they need — because the longer we go without congressional action on this funding, the more opportunities we miss to save lives.”

He is also calling on all Americans to observe the week with programs, ceremonies and activities that raise awareness about the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic.

This comes as police in central Indiana continue to respond to multiple overdoses and try to protect themselves from fentanyl, the synthetic opioid considered 50 times stronger than heroin. The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office says they responded to five suspected heroin overdoses in a matter of 24 hours over the weekend.

According to our partners at the Daily Reporter, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department is considering buying face masks, full-body protective suits and special drug-testing equipment.

According to the CDC, 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

Between 1999 and 2014, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids, including heroin and prescription drugs, nearly quadrupled, the agency reports. During that same time period, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. also nearly quadrupled.

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