Hospitals, and the women and men who work in them, witness the toll of opioid abuse on patients and the health of their communities every day. In 2014 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 28,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses and at least half involved a prescription drug. The Senate passed AHA-supported opioid abuse legislation in March, and, this week, the House of Representatives with an overwhelming bipartisan majority enacted a series of AHA-supported measures, including provisions: encouraging the use and distribution of opioid overdose reversal drugs; permitting partial filling of prescriptions to avoid overuse; and creating a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee to review opioids without abuse-deterrent properties before approval. This is progress. But there’s still a long ways to go. Congress now must reconcile the bills and get a comprehensive piece of legislation to the president to sign. In the meantime, our advocacy for action and the funding needed to support the opioid abuse fight will continue, as will our efforts to provide information and resources – such as webinars – to help our members understand and address the problem with their patients and communities. 

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Birmingham VA Medical Center’s weekly, 90-minute shared medical appointments help veterans address opioid reliance.