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Opioid epidemic sweeps nation, US officials grapple with crisis

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The City of Everett is considering adding a second methadone clinic to assist in the city’s opioid treatment efforts. (Photo: KOMO News)

Experts consider opioid abuse as one of the worst drug epidemics sweeping the country.

According to a new Center for Disease Control and Prevention report, doctors are cutting back on prescribing opioid painkillers, but prescribing is still high.

The amount of opioids prescribed in 2015 was about three times higher than in 1999, according the the CDC.

“Among opioid-related deaths, approximately 15,000 (approximately half) involved a prescription opioid,” said the CDC report.

Ohio Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is leading the right against opioid addiction in his state. On Thursday, Sen. Portman visited Dayton one of the hardest hit counties in the country. He joined a roundtable discussion with the Families of Addicts, a non-profit grass-roots drug recovery organization.

“I heard a lot today from individuals who started with their addiction because they had an injury or an accident and the doctor gave them a bunch of pills,” he said.

“And the doctor gave it to them, so it must be appropriate to take them. One guy said his doctor said to double up, so why not double up again, you know. And that’s how it all got started. And then they turned to heroin because it was more accessible,” Sen. Portman said.

Senate Republicans are working to shore up enough support to pass their health care bill to replace Obamacare. But at least 10 GOP Senators, including Sen. Portman, oppose the current bill. They are concerned because the bill includes deep cuts to Medicaid which was expanded under Obamacare, and many states rely on it for drug treatment.

Counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway says the Senate bill does not cut Medicaid, but instead slows the growth of expansion over time.

“I’m told there’s about $45 billion for opioids in the current senate bill. Still being negotiated. Nothing is final. Does show the seriousness in which this administration puts money behind combating an epidemic,” Conway said.

In March, President Trump created a Commission on Opioid Crisis to combat the epidemic, and White House officials are touring the nation to find solutions