Prescription Opioid, Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week pushing for accessible care and visibility

    (Victoria 1/BigStock)

    (Victoria 1/BigStock)

    National Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week began Monday.

    As part of the initiative, national and local leaders are pushing Congress to pass a $1.1 billion package to increase access to addiction treatment services. They’re also working to expand visibility of the epidemic.

    U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said more than 200 events are planned around the country.

    “We’ve been working on this issue for a number of years, and this week is our time to focus those efforts, to announce those efforts, to expand those efforts, and to make sure that everyone is involved in this fight,” Lynch said. 

    The events include trainings, forums and community roundtables.

    In Philadelphia, where 700 people died of overdoses in 2015, the U.S. attorney’s office will screen a documentary and host a discussion about opiate addiction. 

    U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also announced new funding for 18 rural health and education centers to improve access to care through telemedicine. One of the recipients is a network of rural health care providers in north-central Pennsylvania. Charles Cole Memorial Hospital will receive $50,336.

    “Evidence-based treatment is hard to find,” said Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli. “That’s because, right now, we have an enormous treatment gap in communities all across the country. Only 11 percent of people are getting treatment for their disease. So it’s critical that we expand access to treatment as soon as possible.” 

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