White House funds ways to treat and identify heroin epidemic

The number of heroin overdose deaths in the U.S. continues to climb, so White House is funding efforts to prioritize treatment over punishment for heroin user. $13.4 million grant from the Office of National Drug Control Policy. They will partner public health and safety officials to trace the origin of the drugs and its distributors. The project will be funded for one year and will target high intensity drug trafficking areas in Appalachia, New England, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington and Baltimore.

Heroin Response Strategy demonstrates a strong commitment to address the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic as both a public health and a public safety issue. New Jersey has sought to address heroin and opioid addiction with a comprehensive package of more than 20 bills.

These aim to target abuse recovery housing programs and allow the use of medication-assisted treatment during probation for drug court offenses. 2013 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found New Jersey's heroin-related death rate was 8.3 deaths per 100,000 while the national rate was 2.6, so reforms are needed.

Under the program, patients who come to an ED for an overdose receive Narcan, are stabilized and then linked to an inpatient or outpatient addiction-treatment program.

Another part of the package released Monday by the White House includes almost $4 million to be split between 18 HIDTAs and used on prevention efforts and partnerships between law enforcement, public health and education.

The five HIDTAs along the U.S.-Mexico border will receive $1.3 million and almost $500,000 will go toward programs on tribal lands in six states.

One way states have sought to control opioid abuse has been through prescription-monitoring programs, but a new study posted on the JAMA Internal Medicine website found that Florida's program, implemented in 2010, had only "modest" success.

The study found the program and a "pill mill" law together resulted in a 1.4% decrease in opioid prescriptions between July 2010 through September 2011.

There was also a 2.5% decrease in volume of opioids prescribed.

Study conducted by Johns Hopkins University

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Public Health Law Research program and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention