Alabama Governor Kay Ivey is taking a strong step toward overcoming opioid addiction and misuse in the state by establishing a council to study addiction and foster recovery.
In an executive order released on August 8, Gov. Ivey updated the Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council. While the council was previously established by an earlier executive order, this executive order adds additional members to the council, including the Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall as a third co-chair for the council, alongside the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health and the state health officer.
The order also adds other new members to the council, including the executive director of the Alabama Pharmacy Association, the president of the Alabama District Attorneys’ Association, and the managing director of the Alabama Regional Poison Control Center.
According to the CDC, 736 people died of a drug overdose in Alabama in 2015. Among these overdose deaths, 282 were related to opioids — nearly 40 percent. On a national level, drug overdose deaths claimed the lives of 52,404 U.S. residents in 2015 and 33,091 of those deaths (63 percent) involved opioids.
Alabama faces special challenges when it comes to prescription opioids. In 2012, doctors in Alabama had written 1.43 opioid prescriptions per citizen in the state. While the rate dropped between 2012 and 2015, Alabama still has the highest rate of opioid prescription among all 50 states, with 1.2 opioid prescriptions per each person who lives in the state. The national average was 0.71 opioid prescriptions per person in 2015.
The executive order states that Alabama has “extremely limited” access to addiction recovery treatment for its citizens at this time, but sets forth a plan to expand recovery after further study has been completed. The council will gather data related to the opioid crisis — with special attention paid to synthetic opioids — then analyze strategies to combat the crisis and make recommendations based on the information learned.
Ultimately, the council is charged with providing a comprehensive strategy to combat opioid addiction in the state due by December 31 of this year, providing recommendations for… (continue reading)