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How does California fit into the opioid crisis?

San Jose Mercury News - 10/26/2017

Oct. 26--As President Trump this morning is expected to declare the opioids epidemic a public-health emergency, the Golden State can truly relate.

While states like West Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire have carved out unenviable reputations in the headlines as bastions of prescription painkiller abuse, California has hardly been spared the ravages of this public-health crisis: more than 183,000 deaths in the state from 1999 through 2015 have been attributed to the epidemic.

When it comes to drug abuse in America, misery truly loves company.

Trump reportedly will instruct acting Health Secretary Eric Hargan to declare a public health emergency under the Public Health Services Act, which will enable federal agencies to dedicate more grant money to fight the epidemic.

The announcement will surely be welcomed in places like Vermont that have been ravaged by the abuse of prescribed drugs like OxyContin and illegal substances like heroin, banned as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Vermont for years now has had the second-highest per-capita rate of all states for treatment admissions for prescription opioids; only Maine's is higher. And the numbers have been climbing steadily for years: More than 4,000 were in state-funded treatment for opioid abuse in 2013 -- up from 399 in 2000.

So how does California compare? From the California Department of Public Health and its Opioid Overdose Surveillance Dashboard, here are some numbers that paint a troubling picture for the state as the president declares war on the crisis:

619

Number of opioid prescriptions per 1,000 residents in 2015

23,684,377

Opioid prescriptions in 2016

355

Heroin-related deaths in 2011

561

Heroin-related deaths in 2014

1,449

Opioid-overdose deaths in 2014 (fairly consistent since 2006)

1,925

Opioid-overdose deaths in 2016

1,563

Heroin-related emergency-room visits in 2011

2,449

Heroin-related emergency-room visits in 2014

___

(c)2017 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

Visit the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 
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