The opiate epidemic in America has become so severe that it is now getting national attention from the Obama Administration. The U.S. Surgeon General VADM Vivek H. Murthy visited St. Vincent Charity Medical Center’s Rosary Hall on July 12th as part of his Turn the Tide campaign.
“The reason I’m here in Ohio is because of this opiate epidemic in America that has become so severe and it’s claiming lives in all states and in rural and urban areas alike,” he told the press gathered outside the hospital following his tour. “Ohio is particularly hard hit. We have to attack this problem on several fronts,” he said.
Improving prescribing practices, access to treatment and community education about the addictive nature of opiates are a big push. He also supports getting Naloxone (Narcan) into the hands of first-responders to reverse the effects of an opiate overdose.
But there are also attitudes about addiction that need to be addressed as well. “Right now people see addiction as a character flaw. What we have to do is help people see it for what it is, which is a chronic disease much like diabetes or heart disease. It’s a disease that we need to treat with the same urgency and compassion as we do with others. We do have a lot of work to do.”